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Italian Jesuits in Maryland 

A Clash of Theological Cultures 

Gerald L. McKevitt, SJ. 

BX3701 .388 
Current Periodicals 

39/1 • SPRING 2007 


The Seminar is composed of a number of Jesuits appointed from their provinces in the 
United States. 

It concerns itself with topics pertaining to the spiritual doctrine and practice of 
Jesuits, especially United States Jesuits, and communicates the results to the members of 
the provinces through its pubHcation, STUDIES IN THE SPIRITUALITY OF JESUITS. This is 
done in the spirit of Vatican II's recommendation that reUgious institutes recapture the 
original inspiration of their founders and adapt it to the circumstances of modern times. 
The Seminar welcomes reactions or comments in regard to the material that it pubUshes. 

The Seminar focuses its direct attention on the life and work of the Jesuits of 
the United States. The issues treated may be common also to Jesuits of other regions, to 
other priests, reUgious, and laity, to both men and women. Hence, the journal, while 
meant especially for American Jesuits, is not exclusively for them. Others who may find 
it helpful are cordially welcome to make use of it. 


James W. Bernauer, S.J., teaches philosophy at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Mass. 

Richard A. Blake, S.J., is chairman of the Seminar and editor of STUDIES; he teaches film 
studies at Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Mass. (2002). 

James T. Bretzke, S.J., teaches theology at the University of San Francisco, San Fran- 
cisco, Cal. (2006) 

Patrick J. Howell, S.J., is dean of the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle Univer- 
sity, Seattle, Wash. (2006) 

T. Frank Kennedy, S.J., teaches music and is director of the Jesuit Institute at Boston 
College, Chestnut Hill, Mass. (2004). 

Mark S. Massa, S.J., teaches theology and is director of the American CathoHc Studies 
Program at Fordham University, Bronx, N. Y. (2006) 

Thomas Massaro, S.J., teaches moral theology at Weston Jesuit School of Theology, 
Cambridge, Mass. (2006) 

Gerald L. McKevitt, S.J., teaches history at Santa Clara University, Santa Ckra, Cal. 

Wnham E. Reiser, S.J., teaches theology at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, 
Mass. (2004). 

PhiHp J. Rosato, S.J., is senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center, Washington, 
D.C. (2005) 

Thomas L Schubeck, S.J., teaches social ethics at John Carroll University, University 
Heights, Ohio (2004). 

The opinions expressed in STUDIES are those of the individual authors thereof. 
Parentheses designate year of entry as a Seminar member. 

Copyright © 2007 and pubUshed by the Seminar on Jesuit SpirituaUty 

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Italian Jesuits in Maryland 

A Clash of Theological Cultures 

Gerald L. McKevitt, S.J. 

studies in the spirituality of JESUITS 

39/1 • SPRING 2007 

The first word . . . 

Why is it our elders took such great fascination in recalHng exactly 
where they were when the news of Pearl Harbor first came over the radio? 
It's really an odd topic of conversation, but it came up often. Perhaps my 
own point of view was a bit skewed, since at the time I was too busy 
pushing soggy animal crackers into my face to pay much attention to news 
bulletins on the radio. I wonder if psychologists have a term like "geo- 
graphic memory." 

In the natural flow of time, we all become elders and invariably 
geographic memory keeps popping through the surface, overpowering other 
accidentals of long-past experiences. I was standing at the top of the red- 
brick stoop of our family's semi-attached house, holding my mother's 
hand, when Francine Hayman, pigtails to the breeze, came screeching 
down the middle of the street, looking like a child Barbra Streisand and 
sounding like an amphetamine-crazed Cassandra. In the best Hebraio- 
Hibernian tradition of taking delight in sharing bad news, she proclaimed 
that President Roosevelt was dead. A few weeks later, I was sitting in the 
back of my first-grade classroom, when one of those horrid "perfect little 
girls" from the third grade interrupted class, passed a note to sister, and 
then after a whispered exchange announced to the class that it was V-E 
Day. I didn't know what V-E Day meant, but sister sent us all home to 
celebrate. History I forget; holidays I remember. 

As a first-year regent I was chatting on a staircase at Xavier High 
School between classes when a senior from my Greek class told me that 
President Kennedy had been shot. At the time, sadist jokes were the staple 
of high-school wits, and I waited for some sick punch line to a joke that 
never came. More recently, I stopped off for a cup of coffee at St. Mary's 
at Boston College between my nine o'clock class and office hours. It was a 
glorious September morning in New England, and I couldn't understand 
why everyone looked so glum. I stood by the sink while they muttered 
something about planes and the World Trade Center in New York. 

Most of you have no doubt already matched your recollections with 
mine. But here's a bit of nostalgic geography that's a bit idiosyncratic. I'd 
just entered the periodical room at America House late one afternoon in 
1973 when another young associate editor looked up from his magazine 
and told me that Woodstock had been closed. No, of course, that decision 
does not rank in importance with those other events, not by a long shot, 
but it did hit close to home as a kind of personal trauma. I can still recon- 

struct a composition of place for that conversation as though it took place 
just yesterday. 

The America community then included several Woodstock alumni. 
When we gathered later that evening, amazement rather than anger 
seemed to set the tone. As the weeks passed, disbelief turned to sadness. It 
was like the sudden death of a loved one. How could the American provin- 
cials have reached this conclusion? How could Father Arrupe have been 
persuaded to go along? Over the few years that separated the events, I had 
become reconciled to the closing of my beloved Brooklyn Prep, and had 
even come to appreciate the wisdom and courage of the policy. But Wood- 
stock was something else. It was a special place, the very antithesis of the 
medieval Kingdom of Two Sicilies described by Jerry McKevitt in this 
issue of Studies, and yet it was subject to yet another clash of cultures 
that eventually led to its implosion. 

Why was it special for those of us who closed the seminary in 
Maryland and prepared for the move to Manhattan? Consider the context. 
Most of the freshman class of 1966 had been exposed to philosophy on 
another hilltop, this one barren rather than wooded, in Westchester Coun- 
ty, fifty miles and several centuries removed from New York City. Cultur- 
ally, this was very close to the Woodstock that Jerry describes in his arti- 
cle, from its Neo-Thomism to its dehumanizing daily order. After regency 
in the major cities of the East Coast, most of us feared more of the same 
when we returned to studies. The scattered children of Israel gathered 
from various summer projects for a few days' villa at Blue Ridge Summit, 
Pennsylvania, than which nothing remoter could be conceived. 

The buses to Woodstock passed through the undulating farm coun- 
try of central Maryland, rattled over the plank bridge across the Patapsco, 
and finally glided around the front of the College, where Black Angus 
chomped meditatively on the lawn. Someone explained that these were the 
faculty at lunch. The building was imposing, ominous; the rooms under 
the roof small and Spartan, the heat oppressive. Here we were to enjoy the 
cultural life of the twin cities of Granite and Daniel, suburbs of greater 
metropolitan Woodstock. To say we were depressed would ascribe a level 
of hilarity to the moment that it did not deserve. We were back in the 
nineteenth-century manor house. 

First impressions can be desperately deceiving, and in this case they 
certainly were. On the first day, a note went up telling us that because of 
the heat, the summer dress code would continue, and when we finally 
settled into regular order, those new-fangled clerical shirts would be con- 
sidered an acceptable alternative to habits. By second year, informal dress 
continued through the year, the meals were all served buffet style. The 
rigidities of seminary life, as we recalled them from earlier experiences, 
were gone. We had a far-sighted rector and a considerate, generous minis- 
ter who treated us like the adults we were. 


The intellectual life was exhilarating for all but those few deter- 
mined not to let studies interfere with their outside interests, like chopping 
trees, sports, and getting arrested. Recall that the old course of studies 
fragmented our training to a fault, with the result that almost all of us 
began theology with little more than high-school catechism for back- 
ground. Although Gus Weigel had passed from the scene some years ear- 
lier and John Courtney Murray (so named to distinguish him from his 
classmate John Clayton Murray — ^would someone from Queens named Jack 
Murray have been taken seriously at the Council?) was in his final year of 
teaching, but the veteran faculty had been supplemented by several fine, 
younger scholars, many of whom had their degrees from institutions other 
than the Gregorian. Vatican II ended during regency and the Church was 
busy trying to digest its teachings. We had electives and seminars rather 
than the mandated lectures of long course and short course. It was an 
exciting time to do theology, and Woodstock provided what seemed to be 
an ideal mix of people to carry it off. 

In the post-Sputnik era, the American Society rushed many of its 
brightest men into the sciences during their regency, and as a result we 
had more Ph.D.'s among the student body than on the faculty, many of 
whom were able to continue their research in the Washington-Baltimore 
area. We had Woodstock Letters and Theological Studies, and what was re- 
puted to be one of the best theological libraries in the country. Those of us 
who were committed to "peculiar disciplines," as they were once quaintly 
named, were encouraged to study, teach, and publish, in the belief that 
serious intellectual work in any area would complement our theological 
reflection rather than compromise it. 

Yes, Jerry is correct in describing the campus as remote, but the 
Jones Falls Expressway made Baltimore a mere half-hour away. I don't 
think we had the studium aut suicidium sense of isolation that he ascribes to 
earlier generations. Many took up urban ministries in Baltimore, and 
others commuted to Washington to join in the many political-action 
coalitions active around the federal agencies. Interest in the civil-rights and 
peace movements peaked during those years. A commuter bus stopped at 
the front door several times a day. We had a reasonable fleet of cars avail- 
able to the scholastics, and several organizations that depended on our 
help provided transportation. For the first time in its history, it was al- 
leged, Woodstock had a parking problem. The campus golf course became 
a field of weeds, since so few duffers were around to use it or care for it. 

Even though we did not inhabit the intellectual bubble that Jerry 
describes, we still knew that the rural seminary was not the perfect instru- 
ment to train priests for the postghetto, postconciliar Church. While 
transportation and flexible scheduling could compensate for many of the 
limits of isolation, it could not provide the ecumenical dimension to our 
training that was clearly necessary in America's pluralistic society. As did 

all the other theologates, Woodstock concluded that after a century on the 
Patapsco, it was time to move. It entered into conversations with Yale 
Divinity School and Union Theological, and in the end opted for New 
York. Doing theology in conjunction with Union and Jewish Theological, 
and in the shadow of the World Council of Churches and Columbia Uni- 
versity, seemed an ideal opportunity for young Jesuits, but we'll never 
know. The ship sank during its shakedown cruise. Or rather was decom- 
missioned and scuttled. 

What happened? I don't know and was certainly not privy to the 
decision-making process. A lot of people seemed nervous about the very 
idea of New York. One heard the warning, "You can't do theology on 
Broadway," an assertion that would surely have come as a surprise to 
TilUch, the Niebuhrs, BonhoefFer, and Heschel. The other theologates 
provided private houses in leafy residential neighborhoods, but given the 
nature of real estate in Manhattan, the best Woodstock could offer were 
clusters of apartments. The dispersion led to a sense of a lack of control, a 
notion that gained traction with Garry Wills's unfortunate article in New 
York magazine. For whatever reasons, the school with the longest history, 
the most promising ecumenical setting, and strongest faculty closed. It 
seemed unreasonable, unfair, and just sad that the American Jesuits backed 
away from a golden opportunity. At least that is the way I saw it at the 
time. Well, all right, maybe I still do. 

Just as Woodstock began packing its library off to Georgetown, I 
started a tour of duty in formation work, and had the opportunity to visit 
not only the remnant community at Woodstock, but the other schools of 
theology in the United States and Canada. As a result, some of the mys- 
tery about Woodstock's closing was lifted. At least I thought I gained an 
insight into the rationale behind the decision. Just five years out of theol- 
ogy at this time, I was amazed at the contrast from my own experience. 
Rectors and deans spoke of designing programs to strengthen the personal 
and pastoral skills of individual scholastics. Spiritual direction and person- 
ally directed retreats had become important elements in the course of 
studies. During his interview with the rep from the home office, one scho- 
lastic complained about having to spend the summer doing CPE. He was 
amazed that I had never heard of the term. Community meetings and 
mutual scrutiny seemed as important as systematic theology. It was a bit 
overly introspective for my taste, but after all, I was the product of another 
place and time. 

Despite Garry Wills's caricature, we'll probably all go to our graves 
wondering if the cultural, political, and religious turbulence of the period 
were any worse at Woodstock than at the other houses of studies. Yet I've 
reached my own conclusion that Woodstock marched to its own drummer, 
only to realize that the parade had passed it by. It tried to immerse itself 
academically and socially into the "American Experience," to borrow a 


phrase used so often by Father Murray. While the other theologates con- 
structed enclaves within other people's academic enclaves, Woodstock 
assimilated with the natives, perhaps to an excessive degree. At least in the 
estimation of many others, it both lost control of its environment in an 
unhealthy way and neglected important ecclesial dimensions of priestly 
formation. We'll also wonder if Woodstock should have been given the 
opportunity to strengthen its perceived weaknesses, or whether it could 
have, given its own culture. Of course, at this point history has resolved 
the issue. 

Jerry McKevitt has given us the portrait of Woodstock College in 
conflict in another era, but one marked by controversies every bit as divi- 
sive as the ones it faced in more recent times. My three years on the Pa- 
tapsco provided a wonderful experience. While I have become reconciled 
to its demise, more or less, I can only be grateful that it survived the first 
clash of cultures. Jerry's essay gives all of us an opportunity to reflect on 
our own theological training, and on the training the Society will need for 
the contemporary Church. 

Richard A. Blake, SJ. 




I. A Transformation of Ministries 

The Pastoral Imperative 7 

A Second Wave 10 

A Different Mindset 14 

Our Way of Proceeding 19 

n. The Training of Scholastics 24 

Removed from All Dangers and Distractions 29 

A New Type of Seminary 31 

Scuola italiana 34 

The Roman College Replicated 37 

Global Events 39 

To Teach Nothing New 40 

m. A New Generation of Jesuits 42 

Ritorno in patria 43 

The Legacy 46 

Broadening the Base 49 

IV. Conclusion 51 



Author's Prenote 

This present monograph develops a portion of the story of the role of 
the Italian Jesuits in invigorating the ministries of the Maryland 
Province, especially their influence in the founding of Woodstock 
College. The fuller version is recounted in Brokers of Culture: Italian 
Jesuits in the American West, 1848-1919, by Gerald McKevitt (© 2007 by 
the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Jr. University), recently 
published by the Stanford University Press, 

Gerald L. McKevitt, S.J., currently serves as the Ignado 
Ellucuria, S.J., professor of Jesuit Studies at Santa Clara 
University in California. After completing his 
doctorate in history at UCLA and theology at the 
Gregorian University in Rome, he began teaching 
courses on Native American history and the American 
West. In addition to Brokers of Culture, he has 
published Santa Clara University: A History, 1851-1977. 
He has also taught at Fordham University and 
Gonzaga Uiuversity and was a founding member of 
the editorial board of Conversations. 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland 

A Clash of Theological Cultures 

Political unrest in Europe during the nineteenth century led 
to a resettlement of many Italian Jesuits in the rapidly 
developing regions of the United States. Despite obvious 
problems with adaptation, their contribution to the matur- 
ing of the American Church was invaluable. Their founding 
of Woodstock College was crucial to raising the educational 
standards for the American clergy. 

I. A Transformation of Ministries 

In 1885 Domenico Pantanella, the Neapolitan president of the 
College of the Sacred Heart (today's Regis University), described 
his fledgling Colorado institution to friends abroad. The faculty 
were a jumble of nationalities, he remarked. 'Two Frenchmen, an 
Italian, two American scholastics, one Irish brother, two Mexican 
brothers, one German novice. One never knows what language to 

Pantanella's jest underscored a hallmark of the Society of Jesus 
in nineteenth-century America: it was dominated by Europeans. 
American- and English-born Jesuits staffed early Georgetown College 
and establishments throughout the Maryland Province, but most 
apostolates were forged by a Noah's Ark of refugees. Saint Louis 
University was run by Belgian missionaries; exiled French Jesuits 

Pantanella (Morrison, Col.) to Ganger, Jan. 28, 1885, Archives of the Naples 
Province of the Society of Jesus (Archivo della Provincia Neapolitana della 
Compagnia del Gesu), Gesii Nuovo, Naples, Italy (hereafter abbreviated to ANPSJ). 
Before transferring to Colorado, Regis had operated since 1877 in Las Vegas, New 

2 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, SJ. 

opened churches and colleges in Alabama, Kentucky, and New York; 
and Germans deported by Bismarck's Kulturkampf founded schools 
and parishes across the northeast, from upper New York to the 
Mississippi River. Italian Jesuits animated the Society's apostolates 
nationwide, first in the East, and then in the Far West, where they 
ministered to multiethnic congregations scattered across eleven 

What effect did this national, cultural, and linguistic diversity 
pose for the Society of Jesus? We catch a small glimpse by studying 
the entrance of Italian Jesuits into the Maryland Province at mid- 
century. This episode is instructive because it reveals some of the 
challenges and the opportunities that engaged the Society not only 
in the nineteenth century but also in our own day. The Italians' 

flight from persecution in Europe 
""""""■""""""""""""""^"^ benefited both the Catholic 
''Thanks be to God and Church and the Society in this 

Garibaldi/' exclaimed Joseph country. Just as clergy from the 
Keller, the provincial of the Third World provide aid to the 

Maryland Province, grateful contemporary Church in the Unit- 

that the Italians had made ed States and in Europe, so too 

America their destination. the inpouring of refugee Jesuits 

Their arrival strengthened sustained the mushroom growth 

both the Church and the of American Catholicism in the 

Jesuit order at a crucial time nineteenth century, when priests 
when priests were badly ^^^^ ^ short supply. It is instruc- 

needed ^^^' ^ ^^^ ^^^ ^^^ ^^ shrinking 

manpower, to consider how the 

^^— ^^^^^^^— ^^^^ Society of an earlier time coped 

with personnel shortages. Jesuits 
of the restored order, for example, not only welcomed refugees from 
abroad, they aggressively recruited them for ministry in America. As 
a consequence, polyglot expatriates engaged in a wide range of 
apostolates to American Catholics and to fellow immigrants pouring 
into the United States from every corner of the globe, as they found- 
ed parishes, high schools, and colleges that still flourish today. 

These achievements, however, were not accomplished without 
conflict. Then as now, Jesuits from abroad found religious life in 
America both attractive and alienating. What was alien they sought 
to reform. The refugees from Italy, molded by the traditions of their 
homeland, labored to integrate provincial America into a Catholic 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 3 

culture that transcended local and national boundaries. Wherever 
they went, the Church was more Roman when they left. For in- 
stance, they reshaped Jesuit formation in the Maryland Province 
according to a European prototype. As agents of ecclesiastical stan- 
dardization, the emigres upgraded the quality of the Society's train- 
ing in the United States by founding the order's first national scho- 
lasticate, Woodstock College. Thus, not only did they transfer the 
formation of young Jesuits from college campuses to a rural location, 
but they also promoted a devotional life centered on Rome and the 
papacy, and they standardized philosophical and theological instruc- 
tion in accord with the doctrines of St. Thomas Aquinas. These 
innovations provoked clashes between American Jesuits and their 
European confreres over how the Society's ministry should be 
exercised in the United States. Despite disagreements, that tension 
proved ultimately to be lifegiving, however, because it bore fruit in 
greater apostolic effectiveness. 

Among the many uprooted Europeans of the nineteenth 
century, few exercised a more wide-ranging influence on the Ameri- 
can Society than did the Italians. Ejected from their homeland by the 
upheavals that accompanied the process of national unification 
known as the Risorgimento (Re- 
birth), nearly four hundred expa- ^— ^___«_^«^_ 
triates assumed crucial ministries ,, . .., . 

across the United States. After rev- ^. ,^^ tnstttutton 

olution temporarily drove Pope profited as much from 

Pius IX and religious orders from ^^^ ^^/"^^^ ^'"^"^ ^^^^ 

Rome in 1848, Italian Jesuits Georgetown College, which 

crossed the Atlantic to start new had relied on recruits from 

apostolates on the East Coast. Af- abroad since its founding in 

ter the kingdom of Piedmont be- ^75^- ^^th the advent 

gan expelling clergy, members of of the erudite emigres, 

the northerly Turin Province scholarship flourished. 

launched missionary work in the ^^^^______..^_____^^_____ 

Far West, founding colleges, 

churches, and Indian missions in California and in the Pacific North- 
west. With the fall of the Papal States to the armies of united Italy in 
1870, emigres from the Neapolitan Province ministered to Spanish- 
speaking Catholics in the New Mexico-Colorado Mission. The 
capstone of Neapolitan Jesuit influence was the founding in 1869 of 
Woodstock College, a national seminary in Maryland. A few years 

4 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, SJ. 

later, they established a school for Hispanic Catholics in Las Vegas, 
New Mexico, which was later relocated in Denver as Regis College. 

The entry of Italian Jesuits into the American Catholic fold 
enkindled both celebration and conflict within the Society. Stepping 
ashore, the refugees were greeted enthusiastically by their fellow 
religious, beginning with the first wave in 1848 and continuing into 
succeeding decades. ''Thanks be to God and Garibaldi," exclaimed 
Joseph Keller, the provincial of the Maryland Province, grateful that 
the Italians had made America their destination.^ Their arrival 
strengthened both the Church and the Jesuit order at a crucial time 
when priests were badly needed. The Maryland Province, which at 
the time embraced the District of Columbia and the states of Mary- 
land, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, boasted a total 
membership of 140 men. Of these, 37 were scholastics, 59 were 
brothers, and only 44 were priests. This small coterie staffed seven- 
teen institutions, including three colleges.^ 

In such a restricted milieu, every man counted. Consequently, 
although the Europeans' vision of how the Church and the Society 
of Jesus should operate would later provoke confrontation, the initial 
reaction to the advent of the immigrant clerics was optimistic if not 
euphoric. It also mattered that they were foreigners. The high 
esteem in which local Catholics held the Europeans and the benefits 
they were expected to bring to the Church were summarized by 
John Larkin, the president of St. John's College at Fordham, New 
York. The outsiders would supply a welcome corrective to American 
provincialism, he predicted in 1848. The present state of the perse- 
cuted Society of Jesus in Europe was "a very painful one, . . . but 
many advantages will accrue from it." Contact with Jesuits from 
abroad would have a broadening effect on the order in America, 
Larkin believed. 

The different provinces will be acquainted with one another, learn to 
appreciate what is good and solid, [and] local prejudice will be done 
away with. The ideas of many, confined within too narrow a circle. 

^Joseph Keller (Baltimore) to Davide Palomba, Sept. 30, 1873, ANPSJ. 

Catalogus Provincias Marylandiae, 1848, Roman Archives of the Society of Jesus 
(Archivum Romanum Societatis lesu), Borgo Santo Spirito 5, Rome, Italy (hereafter 
abbreviated to ARSI). 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 5 

will be enlarged. They will learn there are more ways of doing a 
thing, and doing it well.^ 

Before Larkin's rosy forecast could be realized, work had to be 
found for the new arrivals, confidence to egos shattered by exile had 
to be restored, and a place for them in the new society had to be 
found. Most of them found jobs at Jesuit colleges. Reliance on Latin 
as the language of instruction in 

philosophy and theology courses, __.....^_^^,^___«.^^^ 
eased their switch from one cul- 
ture to another. No institution The College of the Holy Cross 
profited as much from the refugee in Massachusetts reported 

influx as did Georgetown College, that philosophy students 

which had relied on recruits from were ''well pleased with 

abroad since its founding in 1789. Father Felice Sopranis/' 

With the advent of the erudite former rector of the Roman 

emigres, scholarship flourished. College, who had surmounted 
Two of the brightest lights among his ignorance of English by 

the Roman exiles were the astron- lecturing in Latin. 

omers Benedetto Sestini and Pietro 
Angelo Secchi, both of whom re- — ^^— ^^^^^■^^-^^-^— ■ 

sumed their research work in the 

college observatory. Although Secchi lingered in America for only a 
short time, Sestini, who brought recognition to the college through a 
series of widely used mathematics textbooks, reigned for years as the 
school's top research scientist.^ 

These reinforcements, joined with Jesuits from Switzerland, in- 
flated the Georgetown faculty from sixteen to twenty-two professors 
in the space of three years. Classes in German and Hebrew suddenly 
made their debut, while chemistry and physics began to be offered 
every year. Advances in the curriculum, accompanied by a jump in 
the size of the student body, sparked an upswing in the fortunes of 
the growing institution whose enrollment spiraled from a trifling 136 

*John Larkin (New York) to F. W. Gockeln, July 10, 1848, Larkin 
Correspondence, Archives of the New York Province of the Society of Jesus, Fordham 
University, New York (hereafter abbreviated to anypsj). 

Robert Emmett Curran, Georgetown University, Volume 1: From Academy to 
University, 1789-1889 (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown Univ. Press, 1993), 1:143; 
Joseph T. Durkin, Georgetown University: First in the Natiort's Capital (Garden City: 
Doubleday, 1964), 27. 

6 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, SJ. 

pupils in 1849 to over 300 a decade later. This burst of progress 
prompted the college to publish a printed catalog during the 1850-51 
academic year. "For the first time/ wrote the university historian, 
Joseph T. Durkin, "the detailed blueprint of the studies provided at 
Georgetown was presented to the public in a readable and attractive 

All Jesuit schools on the East Coast profited from the coming 
of the displaced academics. The College of the Holy Cross in Massa- 
chusetts reported that philosophy students were "well pleased with 
Father Felice Sopranis/' former rector of the Roman College, who 

had surmounted his ignorance of 
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ English by lecturing in Latin.^ The 

Italian philosopher-theologian 
In preferring the freedom of Nicola Russo became the first pub- 

parish life to the regimen of lished professor at Boston College. 

an academic career, the A leader in the revival of Thomism 

Italians were not alone. in the United States, Russo 

American Jesuits had a long authored a two-volume Summa 

tradition of running rural philosophica iuxta scholasticorum 

churches, a tradition they principia that was adopted as a text 

were reluctant to let go. in many American seminaries. 

Eventually, twenty-one of the Ital- 
"^"""■~— ■'■^"— — ■— ■"^— " ians became presidents of Ameri- 
can colleges, most of them in the 
Far West. Russo served as the seventh president of Boston College, 
and Antonio Ciampi, praised by American contemporaries as "one of 
the brilliant and most popular" of the Italians, completed three terms 
at the CoUege of the Holy Cross and another at Baltimore's Loyola 

Curran, Georgetown University, 1:133, 397 f.; "Catalogues [of Georgetown 
College], 1835-36 to 1849-50, incl.," Archives of Georgetown University and Catholic 
Historical Manuscripts Collection, University Library, Special Collections Division, 
Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. (hereafter abbreviated to AGU); Joseph 
Havens Richards, S.J., "An Explanation in Reply to Some Recent Strictures," VJoodstock 
Letters (hereafter abbreviated to WL) 26 (1897): 153. 

Early (Worcester, Mass.) to Brocard, Jan. 15, 1849, "Maryland Letters 1810s- 
50s," ANYPSJ. 


Barnum, [Statement regarding Ciampi Papers, n.d.], A. Ciampi Papers, 
Catholic Historical Manuscript Collection, AGU; Ciampi's role at Holy Cross is 
described in Anthony J. Kuzruewski, Thy Honored Name: A History of the College of the 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 7 

Several of the exiles who emigrated at an early age were 
particularly adept at hitching their star to a new culture. As presi- 
dent of Loyola College, an accommodating Ciampi scrapped prac- 
tices deemed unsuited for American students (daily recitation of the 
rosary), while championing others that some churchmen opposed 
(dancing the waltz). In an era when Catholics and Protestants vied 
in insulting one another, Ciampi was ecumenical, encouraging, for 
example, one of his female converts to accompany her non-Catholic 
husband to his church ''for the sake of association and to hear the 
eloquence of the preacher.''^ Luigi Varsi's swift acculturation evoked 
praise from Americans too. His scientific lectures in Boston, "deliv- 
ered in an interesting style and illustrated with costly apparatus 
procured at his desire,'' were, they said, "perhaps the best until then 
given on those subjects in the province."^° 

The Pastoral Imperative 

So many exiles rushed off to pastoral work, however, that the 
Maryland provincial, Angelo Paresce, carped that they were aban- 
doning the classroom for the pulpit. "They barely begin to babble a 
bit of English," he grumbled, "and they become attracted to minis- 
tries and want nothing more to do with teaching." In preferring the 
freedom of parish life to the regimen of an academic career, the 
Italians were not alone. American Jesuits had a long tradition of 
running rural churches, a tradition they were reluctant to let go." 

In the seventeenth century, circuit-riding priests had estab- 
lished a network of missions in Maryland's rural counties. Driven by 
a desire to succeed and to win acceptance in British North America, 
Jesuits had financed their apostolates through farms that were 
supported by a slave work force. Their eight plantations, the center 
of Catholic religious life in colonial Maryland, gradually morphed 
into parishes. Although reliance on slave labor had ended in 1838, 
the planter-priests continued to say Mass, till their fields, and run 

Holy Cross, 1843-1994 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic Univ. of America Press, 1999). 

Nicholas Varga, Baltimore s Loyola, Loyolds Baltimore, 1851-1986 (Baltimore: 
Maryland Historical Society, 1990), 71. 


John J. Ryan, S.J., "Our Scholasticate: An Account of Its Growth and Piistory 
to the Opening of Woodstock, 1805-1869," WL 33 (1904): 141. 

" Paresce (Baltimore) to Beckx, Jan. 12, 1869, Marylandia 1010-1-33, ARSI. 

8 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, S.J. 

farms far into the nineteenth century. From Georgetown College, 
Jesuits also cared for congregations in coastal Virginia while pastors 
from St. Mary's Parish in Alexandria fanned out to rural missions in 
eastern portions of the state. Similar networks developed in Pennsyl- 
vania and Maine, where by midcentury the Jesuits ran eight church- 
es and thirty-three mission stations.^^ Although the Americans' 
penchant for country parishes would soon emerge as a point of 
contention between native and foreign Jesuits, that ministry was 
temporarily beefed up by the arrival of priests from abroad. Most of 
the refugee clergy, however, were drawn to ethnically diverse urban 
churches because of their fluency in multiple languages. 

So dependent had the Americans become on their European 
brethren that the return of some Italians to Rome following the 1849 
papal restoration plunged Georgetown College into crisis. You "can 
judge what difficulty this recall puts us in," Maryland's head, Ignace 
Brocard, protested when the Jesuit provincial of Rome began retriev- 
ing his men. "We will do all we 
^^_^^^^^^_^_,^^________ can to carry out his orders," Bro- 
card said in letters brimming with 
Charmed by what they had frustration, "but to send back all of 

discovered in America and ^is priests and scholastics wiU be 

skittish about turbulent impossible for us." Brocard lobbied 

Italy, they sought to linger. the superior general's intervention, 

__^____^^^^^^^_______^___^^^__ insisting that experienced Euro- 
pean hands were indispensable for 
laying a solid foundation for the reestablished Society in the United 
States. Felice Sopranis, for example, had become "indispensable for 
the tertianship," a training program for newly ordained priests. And 
it was "absolutely essential" that the mathematician Giovanni Battista 
Pianciani remain in America "until other help arrives."^^ 

Brandishing every weapon in his meager arsenal, Brocard 
claimed that the well-being of Georgetown had global implications. 
The school was providing an English tutor for the son of the French 


Jay P. Dolan, The American Catholic Experience: A History from Colonial Times 
to the Present (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1985), 79-82, 87-90; Vincent A. 
Lapomarda, The Jesuit Heritage of New England (Worcester: Holy Cross, 1977), 18. 
Regarding Jesuit slavery, see Thomas Murphy, Jesuit Slaveholding in Maryland, 1717- 
1838 (New York: Routledge, 2001), 187 f., 216-19. 

^^ Brocard (Georgetown) to Roothaan, Apr. 12, 1850, Marylandia 1008-11-24, ARSI. 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 9 

ambassador, he wrote. ''We also have very good relations with the 
ambassadors of Russia, Mexico, Chile, New Grenada/' If diminished 
manpower forced the Jesuits to abandon the care of these notables, 
he hinted darkly, the reputation of the Society in the diplomats' 
home countries might suffer. Others, too, joined the chorus of 
protest. When Rome sought to reclaim the astronomer Benedetto 
Sestini, James A. Ward, of St. Joseph's College in Philadelphia, 
howled, "What on earth are we to do, if the very person taken away 
is one for whom we can find no substitute?" Sestini and his country- 
men had to stay put "so that our College may stay afloat." Besides, 
he noted, "we have freely spent nearly twenty thousand dollars" 
caring for them.^"* 

Some Italians were themselves dismayed at the prospect of 
leaving. Charmed by what they had discovered in America and 
skittish about turbulent Italy, they sought to linger. An anxious Gio- 
vanni Battista Pianciani voiced 

"extreme repugnance" at the pros- 

pect of a hasty return to Rome. In 

a letter to the superior general, he Reports sent by them to Jan 

whispered news that "I have told Roothaan (whom many 

no one here." One of his brothers, ^f "^^f. ^^^ personally) 

J J- ^ J ^ ^i_ ^rid to hts successor, Pieter 

a man once very dedicated to the „ , ,,./,, ^ 

, J t. . 1 . ., .. , BecKX, detailed dark 

pope, had enhsted m the national- . . £ a - r^^ - 

r ^ AA' ' u impressions oj America. Their 

^' ^ accounts colored the superior 

learned from French newspapers ^^^^^^^.^ ^.^ oj Jesuit life 

that another relative had joined ^ ^„^ ^^^^^^ ^^^ decisions 

the resistance, fought against the regarding the order's 

papal restoration, and now Ian- activities there, 
guished in prison. Expecting any 

day to hear that one of his kin -—--— -^------------— — — 

had been executed by a firing squad, the mortified Pianciani dreaded 
repatriation. A month later, however, he did a sudden about-face. 
The tabloids upon which he relied for intelligence about his relatives 

^^Brocard (Georgetown) to Roothaan, Sept. 17, 1849, Marylandia 1008-11-16; 
Ward (Baltimore) to Beckx, Nov. 17, 1854, Marylandia 1008-III-9, both in ARSI. 

10 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, S.J. 

had exaggerated their plight, and so, with lonore di famiglia restored, 
he announced a cheery willingness to sail home.^^ 

Other exiles, doubting the stability of Italy's new government, 
preferred to pitch their tent in America. Ignazio Ciampi, a twenty- 
two-year-old scholastic, volunteered to stay put in order to convert 
the country's "immense number of Protestants of every denomina- 
tion." Exile had likewise fired Benedetto Sestini's sense of mission. 
Distressed by the unconventionality of American Catholicism, this 
watchdog of orthodoxy announced himself ready to spend the rest 
of his life in the United States in hopes of setting things aright.^^ 

A Second Wave 

But the majority of the fugitives of 1848 soon repatriated 
across the Atlantic. By 1854 the number of Italians in the Maryland 
Province dropped from thirty-two to a mere half dozen.^^ The 
vacancy created by the departing Romans was soon filled, however, 
with a fresh wave of asylum seekers. When the northerly Kingdom 
of Piedmont-Sardinia started ejecting clergy in the 1850s, Jesuits 
arrived in even larger numbers. Unlike the Romans, for whom the 
doors of Italy had (briefly) reopened, the Piedmontese found them- 
selves permanent exiles. A few years later, after southern Italy 
became absorbed into the newly unified secular state, scores of 
deported Neapolitan Jesuits also made the United States their home. 
Although both the Piemontesi and the Neapolitani would soon estab- 
lish missions in the Far West, in the interval between deportation 
and re-emigration to the frontier, they, like their Roman predeces- 
sors, left their mark on the Jesuit world of the East Coast. 

How did the immigrants regard their adopted home? Not 
every exile was as uncritical of the United States as Francesco De 
Vico, whom Roothaan once accused of looking at the United States 

^ Pianciani (Georgetown) to Roothaan, n.d., Sept. 1849, Marylandia 1009-XIV- 
11; and Pianciani (Georgetown) to Roothaan, Oct. 4, 1849, Marylandia 1009-XIV-14, 
both in ARSI. 

^^Brocard (Georgetown) to Roothaan, Apr. 12, 1850, Marylandia 1008-11-24; 
Ignazio Ciampi (Georgetown) to Roothaan, Feb. 18, 1850, Marylandia 1009-XIV-16; 
Benedetto Sestini (Georgetown) to Roothaan, Sept. 17, 1849, Marylandia 1009-XIV-12, 
all in ARSI. 


Catalogus Provinciae Marylandiaa, 1846 and following years, ARSI. 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 11 

through rose-colored glasses. Others, by-the-book traditionalists who 
cringed at the American lifestyle, soon made their presence felt. 
Dismayed by what they encountered, the emigres exerted a correc- 
tive influence on Jesuit culture that was disproportionate both to 
their numbers and to the length of their stay in the country. Reports 
sent by them to Jan Roothaan (whom many refugees knew person- 
ally) and to his successor, Pieter Beckx, detailed dark impressions of 
America. Their accounts colored the superior general's view of Jesuit 
life and shaped his decisions regarding the order's activities there. 

The immigrants' mat de terre was ascribable in part to the 
inevitable disruptions that afflicted exiles. But their critique also 
exposed a conviction that religious life in Italy shone as a paradigm 
for the rest of the world. Since the sixteenth century, the Roman 
houses had been viewed as the embodiment of Jesuit tradition and 
the gold standard against which all other institutions were mea- 
sured. St. Ignatius had spent most of his career in the city, and many 
of the order's first establishments, 

including its headquarters at the __^^__«___«_ 
Gesii, flourished there. Seminari- 
ans from around the world came Belief in the normative 
to receive their formation at the stature of the Eternal City 
Collegio Romano, "that great and spread like ripples from a 
blessed Roman nursery,'' as con- tossed stone throughout 
temporary churchmen lauded it. the Catholic world 
From that "great generator of during the centralizing 
men" was launched a phalanx of papacy of Pius IX. 

priests ready to "overrun and con- 

quer the wicked world."^^ Belief in ---—--■^— -^— -—-— ^— 

the normative stature of the Eternal City spread like ripples from a 
tossed stone throughout the Catholic world during the centralizing 
papacy of Pius IX. Accordingly, American Jesuits had for years sent 
their most promising seminarians to Rome to drink in the spirit of 
the Society at its fountainhead. For this reason James Ryder, later 
president of Georgetown College, and other Maryland scholastics 
had been dispatched to Italy for training in the 1820s. Similar bene- 
fits were expected to flow in reverse when the Roman College exiles 
of 1848 arrived in the United States. "Shaking off the dust of their 


Sixteenth-century Jesuit praises of Rome are found in A. Lynn Martin, The 
Jesuit Mind: The Mentality of an Elite in Early Modern France (Cornell Univ. Press, 1988), 19. 

12 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, S.J. 

feet upon the continent of Europe/' an American priest said, the 
faculty of the Collegia will "work as no other body in the church can 
work for converting this country to the Faith.''^^ 

In a short time, however, both native-born and immigrant 
Jesuits began to reevaluate the advantages of compounding cultures. 
The hosts found themselves outnumbered by their guests, as at 
Georgetown College, where by 1849 nearly 70 percent of personnel 
were Europeans, expatriates not only from Italy, but from France 
and Switzerland as well.^ That the immigrants did not instantly 
shed foreign customs and embrace the American way of life rankled 

local Jesuits. "When will they learn 
^^^— ^— ^^— ^^^^^— to lay aside their notions," griped 

When hostility turned ^^ew York priest, "and take up 

• 1 J. r^i 1 C4. 4. 4. the ways and customs and lan- 
vtolent, Charles Stonestreet ^ , . 

T .^ ' ' 1 £ n/r 1 J ^aees of those whom they live 

Jesuit provincial of Maryland ^ >u?/'2i 

during the years 1852 to 

1858 Jorbade his subjects to Fo'' t^^ir P^^**' refugees 

wear clerical garb in public, ^^^^^ Americans clueless about 

Jesuit tradition and unfailingly 
—-——-—----——-——— convinced of the superiority of 

their way of doing things. 'T no- 
ticed various little things that cause me some concern for the future," 
Ignace Brocard wrote in 1849, soon after the first Roman castaways 
settled into Georgetown. The conventions to which our Italian 
guests are accustomed, he sighed, "will require some adjusting." 
Thus, as Europeans and Americans became better acquainted, lofty 
first impressions yielded to more critical reappraisals and finally, in 
some cases, to mutual incomprehension.^ 

^^J. B. Shaw (Boston) to Ryder, Oct. 5, 1848, Ryder Papers, AGU. 


Catalogus Provinciae Marylandise, 1848 and Catalogus Provinciee Marylandix, 
1849, Archives of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, University Library, 
Special Collections Division, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. (hereafter 
abbreviated as AMPSJ). 

^^ Frederick William Gockeln (La Val, France) to John Larkin, Sept. 7, 1848, | 
Larkin Collection, ANYPSJ. Gockeln responded to complaints he had received about 
French Jesuits in New York. 

^Brocard (Georgetown) to Roothaan, Feb. 27, 1849, Marylandia 1008-11-11; 
Nov. 10, 1849, Marylandia 1008-11-19; and Oct. 6, 1849, Marylandia 1008-11-17, all 
found in ARSI. I 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 13 

Events outside the walls of religious communities heightened 
tensions generated within by national differences. During the 1850s, 
the Know Nothing movement, which targeted Catholicism and 
foreigners, and Catholic writers and politicians as well, directed its 
ire against the Church and its clergy. Stories of villainous priests and 
nuns saturated the pages of sulfurous novels bearing titles such as 
Isaac Kelso's Danger in the Dark: A 

Tale of Intrigue and Priestcraft ^^.^^._ii_i»^^.^_ 
(1857). When hostility turned vio- Georgetown's 

lent, Charles Stonestreet, Jesuit unconventionalUy convinced 
provincial of Maryland during the newcomers that the place was 
years 1852 to 1858, forbade his not well suited for serious 

subjects to wear clerical garb in study. Its arrangement 

public. Fearing assaults on foreign was so bizarre, 

priests, he even took it upon him- one Italian claimed, 

self in 1852 to hide the identity of that it defied description. 

Irish and German Jesuits by dis- ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 
guising their names in the prov- 
ince catalog. "Without consulting the feeling of his victims,'' said a 
contemporary, he transformed ''O'Toole'' to 'Toair and ''Walch to 
Wolch"; "O'Callaghan" became "Calligan" and "Bauermeister," 
"Barrister.'' Stonestreet's fears were not groundless. In 1854 a Know- 
Nothing crowd in Maine tarred and feathered John Bapst, a Swiss 

In this superheated atmosphere, Jesuits grew acutely aware of 
ethnic identification. Whenever the time drew near for the appoint- 
ment of a new provincial, factions formed along national lines. In 
1854 Italians endorsed Angelo Paresce; Germans backed Burchard 
Villiger; and Americans favored one of their own. James A. Ward, a 
native, told Superior General Beckx that he should keep the Know 
Nothing threat in mind when making his choice. An imprudent 
appointment could "lead to worse things" in the "particularly dan- 
gerous . . . present state of this republic." Paresce and Villiger were 
sensible and "well versed in our rules," Ward advised, "but they are 


[Barnum], "The Catalogue of 1852," [one page insert in] Catalogus Frovincix 
Marylandiae, 1853 (Baltimore, 1853), GTWN; and Curran, Georgetown University, 137. 

14 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, S.J. 

not Americans, nor are they very well acquainted with the American 
spirit."^ Nevertheless, Villiger, a well-acculturated Swiss, got the job. 

European critics of the fractious American scene conveyed 
their impressions to gatekeepers abroad. From the multinational 
communities of Maryland, observations, suggestions, and complaints 
streamed across the Atlantic. The picture they painted of religious 
life in the United States was not an endearing one: American Jesuits 
were too much men of the world. Acknowledging no separation 
between the secular and sacred realms, they slighted their religious 
duties and spent too much time in lay company. Absorption of the 
Georgetown College faculty in secular business thwarted the regular 
routines of a religious community, and scholastics were so immersed 
in college life that their intellectual and their spiritual formation 
suffered. Georgetown's unconventionality convinced newcomers that 
the place was not well suited for serious study. Its arrangement was 
so bizarre, one Italian claimed, that it defied description: 

It is not an urban institution because it has a vineyard and adjacent 
small farm, and it is located outside the city. It is not rural, consider- 
ing it has a library, museum, and even a footpath in the woods, 
which is daily visited and traversed at random by both the learned 
and unlearned alike — ^by men, women, and children, as it pleases 
them. ... I do not think anything more anomalous could be found 
under the sun.^ 

A Different Mindset 

Insouciant disregard of codes of religious decorum presented 
itself daily. Traditional protocol required a Jesuit to travel with a 
companion whenever he left his residence, a usage that Americans 
found impractical and detrimental to effective ministry. They simi- 
larly ignored the rule prohibiting late-night visits outside the house 
except to attend to the sick or dying. And the frequency with which 
Americans socialized with women dismayed Europeans. When he 
attended the ceremonial laying of a cornerstone of a new church in 
Georgetown, the Roman priest Ugo Molza found it unseemly that 
lesser bottoms shared seats on the stage with the clergy. Students 

4, ARSI. 

^ James A. Ward (Baltimore) to Beckx, Nov. 17, 1854, Marylandia 1008-111-9, ARSI. 
^Filippo Sacchi (Georgetown) to Roothaan, Jan. 23, 1839, Marylandia 1007-111- 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 15 

from the college and women guests were out of place on the dais, 
he grumbled. Accustomed to a hierarchical community in which 
priests occupied the top rung of the social ladder, the Jesuit was ill 
at ease in the socially fluid world of America. Benedetto Sestini was 
similarly scandalized when several Georgetown priests, including the 
provincial, attended a wedding reception marred by an unseemly 
exposure of female flesh. They "found themselves in the midst of a 
crowd of women . . . naked from the head to halfway down the 
chest and on the shoulders.'' The clergy "stayed until midnight and 
enjoyed the beautiful view," Sestini waspishly noted. "I confess, I 
would rather die than find myself in such an ugly situation."^ 

The American mode of living was further tainted by too much 
independence and too much individualism. Europeans readily 
acknowledged the blessings that religious liberty bestowed on their 
Church, agreeing with Georgetown's one-time president, Giovanni 
Grassi that "here, at last, the Cath- 
olic religion is not persecuted by ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 
public authority; here she enjoys 

peace." But they resisted the trans- ^«^ y^t some Neapolitans 

ference of notions of political free- '^ho arrived in the 1860s 

dom to religious life. As a French reveled in the fresh and 

missionary put it, "The spirit of heady liberty of America. The 
independence in this country does sudden lifting of 

not mesh well with the spirit of conventional restraints was 

the Society." Superior General Jan especially enticing to 

Roothaan concurred, declaring idiosyncratic personalities 

that the American passion for un- who relished diversions 

restrained individualism was for a forbidden in Italy. 

religious order "like a second orig- 
inal sin." The ease with which ————----—— ^——— 
American Jesuits gadded about, for 

example, startled outsiders habituated to a more monastic existence. 
When Georgetown's academic year came to a close, the Jesuit com- 
munity moved en masse to the country for the customary summer 
"villa" or vacation. Expecting all would enjoy the holiday together, 
the Italians were stunned when the Americans struck out on their 
own, some of them relaxing at the beach while others headed for 


'Calamo" [Sestini] (Georgetown) to Sopranis, 1859, Marylandia, 1008- VI-9 to 

21, ARSI. 

16 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, SJ. 

private destinations. As a result, the vacationers were soon win- 
nowed down to Italians who had been left behind?^ 

And yet, some Neapolitans who arrived in the 1860s reveled in 
the fresh and heady liberty of America. The sudden lifting of con- 
ventional restraints was especially enticing to idios)ncratic personali- 
ties who relished diversions forbidden in Italy. The unbridled com- 
portment of one Neapolitan led 
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ partners to conclude he was use- 
less. Eugenio Vetromile "has got a 
Missionaries were so piano and a harp, a revolver and a 

scattered about in tiny rural gun, without any permission 
rectories that the customary whatever that I know of," wrote 

lifestyle was impossible to his superior, "although the use 

observe fully — or it was and even the keeping of such arti- 

simply ignored. cles are strictly interdicted." "He 

dresses himself and behaves as to 
^"^"^^^"^"""^"^""^^^^ fully deserve the appellation 
which was given to him in Boston: the dandy priest." For Neapolitans 
who had received "a more restricted training" in Italy, the theologian 
Camillo Mazzella concluded, the liberties granted them in America 
were downright "dangerous."^ 

Some refugees burst free in more dramatic fashion. After two 
years in the United States, Almerico Zappone, a Neapolitan scholas- 
tic studying theology at Georgetown, decided he no longer wished 
to be a Jesuit, an about-face that reinforced the conviction that 
American laxity jeopardized the vocations of the young and compro- 
mised the work of the Society. The circumstance of his exodus in 
1847 and subsequent marriage was reported by Peter Verhagen, the 
Jesuit provincial of Maryland. "One of our young Italian scholastics, 
Mr. Zappone, broke the rope about six weeks ago and succeeded in 

^^Grassi, "Catholic Religion/' }NL 11 (1882): 241 f.; Jean Francois Abbadie 
(Grand Couteau) to Roothaan, Mar. 23, 1839, in Cornelius M. Buckley, Nicholas Point, 
S.}.: His Life and Northwest Indian Chronicles (Chicago: Loyola Univ. Press, 1989), 155; 
Roothaan (Rome) to Soprarus, Jan. 9, 1851, Marylandia 1009-XI-17, ARSI; Pietro 
Galletti, Memorie storiche intorno al P. Molza e alia Compagnia di Gesii in Roma durante il 
secolo XIX (Rome: Tempesta, 1912), 44, 46. 


Vetromile's antics described in John Bapst (Bangor, Maine) to Maryland 
Provincial, July 20, 1855, AMPSJ; Mazzella (Woodstock, Md.) to Palomba, June 25, 1876, 


Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 17 

realizing the ardent wish of his heart/' Verhagen said. He was 
determined "to be free and to live in a free and independent country/' 

He left us . . . for Alexandria [Virginia]. There he went to board in an 
old Catholic widow's house. I foretold that his exit from the College 
would soon end in a comedy. I was right. Mr. Zappone got a wife; 
for on last Saturday, he was yoked to the old widow. Only think of 
such a folly! A young man of 24 years wedded to a tanned and 
withered granny of 64.^^ 

Europeans questioned the American commitment to isolated- 
parish work. This apostolate seemed to them to contradict both the 
Society's accustomed mode of living and its principle of adapting to 
changing times and circumstances. Unlike diocesan clergy, who 
often lived alone, Jesuits typically 

resided in urban communities and ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 
toiled in tandem in a shared enter- 
prise as educators, preachers, and Devoted to their country 
spiritual directors. Before their dis- churches and crops, many 
persal, twenty-six priests and older priests failed to grasp 
brothers in the Jesuit church in that the vital huh of 
Naples taught, preached, and min- American Catholicism had 
istered to an urban population of shifted from Maryland's 
over seven thousand persons. In backwater counties to 
1847 the Roman College had flourishing cities such as 
housed a community of 151 Jesu- Baltimore, Philadelphia, and 
its. Primarily engaged in teaching, Bardstown. 
they also conducted liturgies, 
heard confessions, led spiritual ^-----^^— --—---— _i^—_ 

retreats, and directed sodalities. 

The typical European community further defined itself through a 

daily round of communal activities: rising and retiring at fixed times, 

personal prayer, liturgies and devotional exercises, recreation and 


In the United States, however, every Jesuit seemed to cultivate 
his own garden. Missionaries were so scattered about in tiny rural 


Verhagen (Georgetown) to McElroy, Feb. 4, 1847, AMPSJ; Volpe, I Gesuiti, 

30 • • 

Statistics from Catalogus sociorum et ojficiorum Promnciae neapolitanae Societatis 

lesu ineunte anno 1860 (Naples, 1860) and Catalogus Provincias romanee Societatis lesu 

ineunte anno 1847, ARSI. 

18 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, SJ. 

rectories that the customary lifestyle was impossible to observe 
fully — or it was simply ignored. For this reason, Benedetto Sestini 
declared, the country parishes of the Maryland Jesuits were "foreign 
to our Institute" and "a plague on this province/' "God knows how 
many misfortunes have occurred," he mused, because of the lack of 
discipline and the irregularity that prevailed in these outposts.^^ 
Even Bishop John Hughes of New York agreed that parishes squan- 
dered Jesuit personnel. "If they wish to live out of their community," 
the blunt prelate said, "let them become secular priests."^^ 

That the Maryland Jesuits had lost their punch is a judgment 
with which historians have concurred. Devoted to their country 
churches and crops, many older priests failed to grasp that the vital 
hub of American Catholicism had shifted from Maryland's backwater 
counties to flourishing cities such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, and 

Once the spiritual centers of Catholicism, these farms had become 
run-down reminders of a vanished past; as their farms deteriorated, 
the Jesuits became more covetous about the monetary value of these 
estates; pastoral lethargy settled in as the Jesuits bickered over 
ownership and control of the farms. While they worried about their 
farms, time passed them by and the Sulpicians took over the leader- 
ship role among the American clergy.^^ 

European superiors had long urged retreat from the country- 
side, but their caveats were gently disregarded. This despite argu- 
ments from Europeans and from younger American Jesuits that 
altered circumstances called for a reevaluation of ministries. Pleading 
for more time, older Marylanders argued that only a gradual pull- 
back would enable them to find suitable diocesan clergy to replace 
departing Jesuits. Once disentangled from parochial duties, they 
promised to assign more men to traditional ministries such as "estab- 
lishing schools in the large cities" and preaching retreats.^ 

^^ "Calamo" [Sestini] (Georgetown) to Sopranis, 1859, Marylandia, 1008- VI-9 to 
21, ARSI. 

^^ Hughes cited in Larkin (New York) to Gockeln, May 15, 1849, Larkin 
Correspondence, ANYPSJ. 


Dolan, American Catholic Experience, 123. 

^McElroy, Ryder, and Vespri (Frederick, Md.) to Grassi, June 17, 1843, 
Marylandia 1007-11-14, ARSI. One of the reasons for ending Jesuit slaveholding in 1838 
had been to shift the Marylanders' ministry to the care of urban whites, but that 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 19 

Meanwhile, little changed. In 1854 John McElroy, founder of 
Boston College and a strong proponent of school work, complained 
to Rome about the corrosive effect parish administration had on the 
order's educational apostolate. "The missions in Maryland have 
retarded the progress of our Society very much," he said. They have 
"prevented us from having colleges, by this time, in all our large 
cities," where Jesuits could touch the lives of far more Catholics than 
they did by tilling fields in the countryside. A greater harvest would 
be had by using the schools as bases for pastoral work. The chief 
impediment to reform, McElroy believed, was the provincial, Charles 
Stonestreet, who was "very partial to our country missions, rather 
than colleges." We need an examiner here, he concluded, to investi- 
gate and set things aright.^^ 

Five years later, in 1859, after no improvements had been 
made. Father General Pieter Beckx responded by sending an official 
visitor to the United States. An administrative official and personal 
emissary of the superior general, the visitor came not merely to 
inspect but also to implement reform if that was called for. "Mary- 
land always gives me much to reflect on," Beckx confided to the 
visitor on the eve of his departure from Europe. "Many things are 

^-MA^.-i>i "36 


Our Way of Proceeding 

The person chosen to set things aright was Felice Sopranis, a 
member of the consortium of Roman expatriates who had fled to the 
United States in 1848. After a brief stint at Boston College, he had 
returned to Rome following the restoration of papal government and 
was serving as provincial of the Roman Province when summoned 
back to America. According to Beckx's directive, Sopranis was to 
review Jesuit undertakings not only in the Maryland Province, but 
throughout the country. In light of his European experience and his 
acquaintance with the United States, Sopranis seemed ideally suited 
to redeem Jesuit America. His inspection tour, which carried him 

transition was slow in coming. On the link between the termination of chattel slavery 
and new ministries, see Murphy, Jesuit Slaveholding, 187-92. 

^^ McElroy (Boston) to Beckx, Sept. 27, 1854, Marylandia 1009-XIX-14, ARSI. 

Beckx (Rome) to Sopranis, Oct. 8, 1859, Marylandia 1008-Sopranis 1-V-l, ARSI. 

20 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, S.J. 

from Canada to California, began in New York on October 25, 1859, 
and ended nearly four years later.^^ 

On the East Coast, Sopranis was aided by the Georgetown 
astronomer-mathematician Benedetto Sestini, a long-time observer of 
the American scene. Fluent in English and Italian, the scientist was 
familiar both with the Society of Jesus in Europe and with its Ameri- 
can incarnation. Few individuals, however, were more critical of 
Jesuit life in the United States. In a series of lengthy confidential 
letters written at the visitor's request, Sestini tallied the changes that 
had occurred in the province since Sopranis's return to Europe, and, 
as the visitor's official assistant, he proposed a slate of reforms. 

"Never did I think I would see the Society in such trouble," 
Sestini began, re-sounding alarms he had raised in previous missives 

to Rome. The education given to 
""""""^""""^"^^^"""^^^ American scholastics was woefully 
Meals should be taken in deficient because of the absence of 

silence^ when common well-trained professors. Their spiri- 

reading was not supplied. tual formation was no better, evi- 

Newspaper reading was denced by the fact that too much 

restricted to superiors and license and too little discipline had 

those who he decided had a resulted in the loss of many young 

legitimate reason to peruse vocations. To be sure, some prog- 

them. Everyone should he ress had been made of late. For 

home before nightfall except instance, the arrival of European 

pnests engaged in essential Jesuits in 1848 led to the opening 

ministry ^^ ^ tertianship program for new 

priests and in the inauguration of 
^^^^^^-^^— ^^^— ^^— "the first real novitiate." But the 

order's future in America also de- 
manded a good, common seminary where priests-to-be could be 
properly educated and "well trained in the spirit" of the Society.^^ 

Sestini grieved the Marylanders' commitment to parishes as a 
distraction incompatible with the cultivation of solid values. "Re- 
move the parishes," he predicted, "and you will thereby remove a 
well spring of discord with the bishops and a source of jealousy 

Gilbert Joseph Garraghan, Jesuits of the Middle United States (New York: 

America Press, 1938), l:591n 

20 to 21, ARSI 

^^"Calamo" [Sestini] (Georgetown) to Sopranis, 1859, Marylandia, 1008-VI-ll, 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 21 

between us and the diocesan clergy/' He lamented the "irregularity 
of religious discipline" among his American brethren, discounting 
claims that "the circumstances of the country" required granting 
"greater freedom" here than was exercised by Jesuits elsewhere in 
the world. But he warned that any attempt to implement reforms 
would meet stiff resistance: parochial Americans instinctively closed 
their ears to any improvement proposed by a foreigner. They had 
such an inflated notion of their own country "that they feel a su- 
preme scorn toward all others, England excepted."^^ The problems 
facing American Jesuits were formidable, Sestini concluded, but not 
insurmountable. Providence had permitted the dispersal of himself 
and the other Italian Jesuits in 1848 for a purpose. We have been 
placed here "as witnesses to shortcomings," he told Sopranis. There- 
fore, it was our solemn duty to exercise our "good influence" in 
order that "thought can finally be given to correction."^ 

Sopranis spent a year visiting institutions on the East Coast. 
When his tour ended in 1860, he issued a series of directives, which, 
according to one historian's summary, aimed at reforming Jesuit 
domestic life by imposing a tautly regulated regimen. Superiors, 
particularly presidents of the col- 
leges, were instructed to review ^^-^^^— ™™™— — ^^— 
the Constitutions and Rules of the Qnly one native-born priest 

Society, and to "apply them gently ^^^d been appointed 

but efficaciously." The imposition provincial between 1840 and 
of a daily order in every commu- 287Z a pattern that 

nity became de rigueur. No one Americans resented. 

should be allowed to rise from bed 

whenever he wished or to per- ^^^— ^— — ^^^^— — 
form spiritual exercises at his own discretion. Meals should be taken 
in silence, when common reading was not supplied. Newspaper 
reading was restricted to superiors and those who he decided had a 
legitimate reason to peruse them. Everyone should be home before 
nightfall except priests engaged in essential ministry. No Jesuit 
should venture out alone in the evening, although, he conceded. 

•^ "Calamo" [Sestini] (Georgetown) to Sopranis, 1859, Marylandia 1008-VI-13 
to 17, ARSI. 

^"Calamo" [Sestini] (Georgetown) to Sopranis, 1859, Marylandia, 1008- VI-9 to 
10, and 1008-VI-14 to 17, both in ARSI. 

22 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, S.J. 

there were some pastoral circumstances when this could not be 

When Beckx issued marching orders to Sopranis, he had 
empowered him to withdraw workers from projects judged unsuc- 
cessful or irregular. Accordingly, the visitor closed six parochial 
missions and transferred several parishes to diocesan control. Al- 
though unable to effect a complete retreat from rural churches, 
Sopranis did facilitate a major shift in priorities. Once unfettered 
from the countryside, he reasoned, Jesuits would be freer for educa- 
tional and pastoral work in the bustling modern cities of the East.^ 

The visitor wrestled with the vexing matter of leadership, an 
issue that had for years perturbed both American and European 
Jesuits, although for different reasons. Since the restoration of the 
Society in the United States, the highest offices in the Maryland 
Province had been staffed by foreigners. Only one native-born priest 

had been appointed provincial 
— ^— — ^-^— — between 1840 and 1877, a pattern 

No aspect of religious life in ^^^^ Americans resented. ''It 

>, r r seemed a kind of reflection on the 

Amertca was as much . , . „ 

, .JIT- T -x nien of the province, one Mary- 

lamentea by European Jesuits , , , j //.i . r 

^1 J . » ^ r r lander observed, that for so many 

as the dismal state of . ^i_ , -^ 

, -. ^ years none of them were chosen 

seminary studies. . . i. //43 m 

^ to rule it. No one was more sen- 

^^__i^^..i._i..iii_ sitive to the delicate position of 

outsiders than Burchard Villiger, 

the accommodating provincial from German-speaking Switzerland. 

"Would that we had an American provincial in this region!" he told 

Beckx, repeating Sestini's charge that Americans showed "a natural 

repugnance toward everything foreign."^ Most Europeans agreed, 

however, that few Americans were qualified to govern according to 

Robert Emmett Curran, American Jesuit Spirituality: The Maryland Tradition, 
1634-1900 (New York: Paulist Press, 1988), 24. 

Francis X. Talbot, S.J., Jesuit Education in Philadelphia: St. Josephs College, 
1851-1926 (Philadelphia: Saint Joseph's College, 1927), 65 f. 

Curran, American Jesuit Spirituality, 21; Patrick J. Dooley, V\foodstock and Its 
Makers (Woodstock, Maryland: Woodstock College Press, 1927), 74. 

^Villiger (Worcester, Mass.) to Beckx, May 21, 1859, Marylandia 1008-IV-8; see 
also Curran, American Jesuit Spirituality, 32; Calamo [Sestini] (Georgetown) to 
Sopranis, 1859, Marylandia 1008- VI-9 to 21, ARSI. 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 23 

the true spirit of the Society. Consequently, at the dose of Sopranis's 
visit in 1859, another European, the Neapolitan Angelo Paresce, was 
named to head the Maryland Province. 

With Paresce's appointment and with the promulgation of So- 
pranis's decrees, Italian agency moved toward its apogee. Within a 
decade of their arrival in 1848, Europeans had already transformed 
American Jesuit life. Strengthened by an influx of immigrant clergy, 
the Society was now better able to meet the needs of a mushroom- 
ing Catholic population. Its colleges had benefited from the acquisi- 
tion of teachers and from the redirecting of energies from parish 
work to the classroom. The im- 
provement was immediate, a ^__,^_^^____,_____^^_^^^^ 
Georgetown Jesuit attested, thanks 

to ''the great benefit and sue- Personnel shortages meant 

cesses" that "the arrival of numer- «^^^ ^^^^ scholastics were 

ous missionaries from different frequently pulled from study 
orders and of other religious has ^^d put to work. The 

brought to us.''*^ seminaries had become mere 

But the coming of the Euro- , appendages of colleges 

peans was a mixed blessing. Al- /^^ ^^^^ ^^^ preparation of 
though they boosted urban educa- ^^^^"^^ ^^"^^^ ^«^^^^ 

tional work, their understanding ^^ ^« ^^^ ^^^^ ^f 

of the order's traditions clashed institutional pnonties. 

with the practices of their Ameri- ___^^_^^^_____^^__^^^^^_^____^^__^__ 
can counterparts. National differ- 
ences precipitated strife between outsiders and natives regarding the 
way their vocation was to be lived in the United States. A Jesuit 
official in Missouri, William S. Murphy, reflecting on conflicts that 
erupted in the Midwest after the arrival of displaced Europeans, 
spoke for many English speakers when he wrote in 1855, "We are 
every day more and more resolved to invite no foreign aid." Most 
Jesuit leaders conceded that the struggling order in the United States 
needed reform, but few of them believed that a strict imposition of 
foreign customs was the solution.'^ Protest was pointless, however, 
because, as events subsequently demonstrated, the Society of Jesus, 


Antonio Wiesend (Georgetown) to Jean Muller, Mar. 13, 1848, Thomas F. 

MuUedy Papers, Catholic Historical Manuscripts Collection, AGU. 

Murphy (S 
Jesuit Spirituality, 25 

Murphy (St. Louis?) to Stonestreet, Dec. 12, 1855, AMPSJ; Curran, American 

24 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, SJ. 

like the American Catholic Church itself, would increasingly conform 
to a European model. 

II. The Training of Scholastics 

Of all the reforms introduced by Europeans, however, the 
greatest was yet to come: the restructuring of Jesuit forma- 
tion. The Italians' crowning achievement was the founding 
in 1869 of Woodstock College, Maryland, a national seminary for the 
cultivation of future priests. Americans could now pursue the same 
course of studies in philosophy and theology that was standard in 
Europe, thus pulling them into the intellectual orbit of the Catholic 
Church and the Society of Jesus worldwide. 

The low quality of seminary training in America was one of 
the few issues on which Catholic and Protestant church leaders 
agreed. At a time when science seemed to confute the relevance of 
faith, churches required ministers who could mediate the Gospel to 
the modern world. 'The crude public performances of incompetent 
young preachers'' were no longer acceptable, insisted Charles W. 
Eliot, president of Harvard. Instead of the isolated denominational 
seminaries that had sufficed in the past, Eliot proposed that ecclesi- 
astics undergo "theological education at universities or other centers 
of diversified intellectual activity." Similar concerns animated Catho- 
lics. After Archbishop Gaetano Bedini of Italy visited the United 
States in 1853, he left with the sad impression that "the most out- 
standing priest is the one that has built the most churches and 
begun the most institutions." What the country needed, he argued, 
were priests with "a wider, more complete and more solid educa- 

No aspect of religious life in America was as much lamented 
by European Jesuits as the dismal state of seminary studies. "With 
the exception of some fathers who have been to Rome," a French 
priest wrote, "hardly any have been trained according to the rules of 

'*'' Eliot and Bedini in John Tracy Ellis, "Short History of Seminary Education: 
II — Trent to Today," in Seminary Education in a Time of Change, ed. James Michael Lee 
and Louis J. Putz (Notre Dame: Fides, 1965), 58 f., 65n.62; Sydney E. Ahlstrom, A 
Religious History of the American People (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1972), 735-38. 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 25 

our Institute/'^ In 1840, when Stefano Gabaria, a Piedmontese priest 
who had been appointed superior of scholastics at Georgetown 
College, began delivering Latin exhortations to his students, he met 
a wall of resistance — not just from seminarians but also from priests 
who were not fluent in the ecclesiastical patois. Three years later, 
Georgetown's president, James Curley, built an expensive astronomi- 
cal observatory on campus, only to find out when it was done that 
he had misinterpreted a letter in elegant Latin from Roothaan 
forbidding the project.^^ 

Poor training commenced in the novitiate, the two-year period 
when candidates were introduced to Jesuit life. Once admitted, 
trainees received a slapdash preparation, a shortcoming that no one 
denied but none could correct. Benedetto Sestini believed that most 
American Jesuits had never made a real novitiate, never truly stud- 
ied, nor even laid eyes on a well-ordered and disciplined religious 
community. 'Tt is not an exaggera- 
tion to say," he told Roothaan, -—--— -—-— ^— — — — — 
that vine dressers who labor at the jr„ ^/^^ context of a rapidly 

Jesuit farms of Macao and Santa expanding Church, the freshly 
Sabina in Rome ''more closely re- ^^^^^^^^ ^^^.^^^ of Jesus, like 
semble properly formed men of ^^ adolescent incapable of 

the Society than do some of the self-restraint, found it 

missionaries that we have scat- j./v. /. . .** r- 

J , . . , . . , atfficult to resist takin^F on 

tered about the countryside ■''' .^ ^ ^i -^ 

, „5o ■' more commitments than it 

could manage. 
John McElroy, an Irishman 

who entered the order in 1806, . 

recalled his introduction to reli- 
gious life at Georgetown College. "\ entered the Society as lay broth- 
er, [and was soon] employed as clerk, procurator, assistant cook, 
gardener, prefect, teacher of writing, arithmetic, etc. In these duties 
was I occupied during the two years of novitiate." Even after decid- 
ing to become a priest, McElroy was granted little time to prepare 
himself. "\ was promised time to study, it is true, but as yet it has 

^ Antoine Rey (Georgetown) to Roothaan, July 22, 1842, Marylandia 1007-1-51, ARSI. 


Francis Vespre (Georgetown) to Roothaan, Jan. 16, 1841, Marylandia 1007-1- 
33, ARSI; Curran, Georgetown University, 141. 


Sestini (Georgetown) to Roothaan, July 6, 1852, Marylandia 1008-11-53, ARSI. 

26 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, SJ. 

not arrived/'^^ A generation later, this was still common practice. 
Unlike Europe, where the restored Society had grown rapidly, the 
Society in America suffered for decades from a lack of priests who 
might provide seminary instruction. Personnel shortages meant also 
that scholastics were frequently pulled from study and put to work. 
The seminaries had become mere appendages of colleges for whom 
the preparation of trainee Jesuits ranked low on the list of institu- 
tional priorities. 

Theological study was further compromised by its limited 
scope. An American predilection for polemics and apologetics man- 
dated that priests be equipped, as one Jesuit expressed it, "to meet 

the objections and errors rampant 
— --■^^-— -—— — ^— in the country."^^ This meant that 
Paresce settled instead on a speculative analysis was subordi- 

245-acre farm in Maryland's "^t^** *° *^ nitty-gritty, especially 
, 1' ri J. T7 11 to preparme for debate with Prot- 

bucoltc Patapsco Valley, . , , . . , 

^ ^ /•• -T ^ r estant adversaries on controversial 

twenty-five miles west of z ^i. j a i. 

^ .^. ^ ^, .„ -^ r issues of the day. As a result, 

Baltimore, near the village of . t i. • j • 

^^r 1 \ rr^ . T American Jesuits remamed leno- 

Woodstock. Thus It was that ^^^^ ^^ theological trends and tra- 
the Jesuit siege mentality ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^ ^1^^.^ ^^^^^^ j^ ^1^.^ 

combined with an American ^^^^^^ preaching was prized above 

anti-urban bias to place the ^u ^15^^ as tl^e Sulpician Arch- 

scholasticate in a secluded bishop of Baltimore, Ambrose Ma- 

forest rechal, said in 1826. "The grand 

^^^^^___^____^^^_^^^ object that the good of religion in 

this country demands that you 
have principally under your eyes, is sacred eloquence." Proficiency 
in the pulpit was "infinitely more important," he shrugged, than 
mastering "the learned words of our most celebrated theologians."^^ 

Pressure to supply clergy for a soaring Catholic population 
intensified the temptation to cut study short and to ordain men to 

^^ McElroy to Stonestreet, July 21, 1847, in "The Novitiate in Maryland," v^L 44 
(1915): 9 f. 


Dooley, VJoodstock and Its Makers, 151. 

^^Marechal in John Tracy Ellis, "The Formation of the American Priest: An 
Historical Perspective," in The Catholic Priest in the United States: Historical 
Investigations, ed. John Tracy Ellis (Collegeville, Minn.: Saint John's Univ. Press, 1971), 
19, 32. 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 27 

the priesthood with undue haste. There were never enough pastors 
to meet new needs spawned by the arrival of immigrants from 
abroad and by westward expansion. For example, by 1863 the 
Maryland Province — although its total membership had climbed to 
140 — counted only 44 priests in its ranks; and it was running nine- 
teen institutions, including five colleges. In the context of a rapidly 
expanding Church, the freshly restored Society of Jesus, like an 
adolescent incapable of self-restraint, found it difficult to resist taking 
on more commitments than it could manage. "Our colleges, by no 
means sufficient to meet the wants of the country, were still too 
numerous for our limited supply of professors," a Maryland Jesuit 
said in 1863. "Hence our own studies were abridged and confined to 
what was strictly necessary in order that we might the sooner be 
employed in teaching."^ 

Although an inpouring of foreign clergy upgraded schooling, 
the most radical innovation came in 1860. Visitor Felice Sopranis, 
acting on instructions from the superior general, ordered the cre- 
ation of a house of studies to 

which all scholastics in the United 

States would come for philosophi- 
cal and theological study. Only ^« ^^'^ "«^«^1/ ^^'^^'^^^ ^^"^'^^ 
individuals whose health or ability groped for safe surroundings 

would be better served by com- /'^ "^^''^ .^^ ^f ^^^ ^ff ^f ^- 

1 ^. i_ ^ . ^i_ ■ At odds with the world, they 

pletme a short course m their , / . 

; . espoused a relt^tous 

home provmce or mission were ... ;, . ^ , j ^, . 

^ , - , asceticism that reflected their 

exempted from attending. By alienation from the age. 

pooling resources and faculty, So- 
pranis aimed at bettering the qual- _^^__«—_«_««i_ 
ity of instruction and bringing it 

into alignment with normative Jesuit practice. The scholasticate 
whose creation he promoted would consequently emerge as the 
order's flagship for training priests. Indeed, in the view of one 
scholar, it became "the nation's most influential Catholic seminary." 


Statistics in Catalogus Provincix Marylandiae, 1863, ARSI; Augustus Langcake, 
"Letter from Mr. Langcake, St. John's College, Fordham, Dec. 1, 1863, Letters and 
Notices 2 (ISeA): 65 f. 

28 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, S.J. 

Through its graduates the institution molded Catholic life across the 
country for decades to come.^^ 

Wasting no time, in 1860 Sopranis inaugurated a temporary 
program at Boston College, then located in the downtown section of 
the city. Thus was launched the first combined Jesuit scholasticate in 
the United States, the innovative predecessor of programs that 
would become common in the twentieth century. But the seminary, 
which by 1863 enrolled forty-four students, did not remain long in 
Boston, not only because of disruptions caused by the Civil War, but 

also because the visitor had his 
_^^_^^^^___^^__^^^__^^ eye fixed on a location removed 

from the distractions of an urban 
In this troubled context, the environment, something the supe- 

site selected for the new ^oj. general himself had ordered."" 

seminary at Woodstock The search for a final location feU 

beckoned as a cordon to Angelo Paresce, the Neapolitan 

sanitaire. Buffered by deep provincial of the Maryland Jesuits. 

woods and stretching fields, Upon assuming office, he reeled 

it shielded seminarians, in off the pros and cons of various 

Paresce's words, "from every options in several letters to the 

danger and distraction. superior general, Pieter Beckx. To 

Maryland Jesuits who insisted the 
^^~'"^^^^^"^"^"~^"'^^" scholasticate remain on a college 
campus, Paresce was unbending. That Georgetown College offered 
many advantages (a splendid observatory, a magnificent library, and 
healthy surroundings), he readily agreed, but even if nudged to a 
quiet periphery of the campus, the seminary would still be too 
accessible to the public. In short, no college could ever provide the 
''discipline, recollection, [and] application to study that are required 
to train our scholastics.''"^ In his dogged insistence upon separation, 
Paresce concurred with a growing number of contemporary educa- 

John T. McGreevy, Catholicism and American Freedom: A History (New York: 
W. W. Norton, 2003), 107. 

Statistics regarding the Boston scholasticate found in Catalogus Provinciee 
Marylandise, 1863, ARSI; Beckx to Sopranis, Sept. 25, 1861 [Summary of Father 
General's Correspondence: Missions of the English Assistancy, Nov. 1, 1861-Oct. 6, 
1891], ARSi; G. J. Garraghan, "The Project of a Common Scholasticate for the Society 
of Jesus in North America," Archizmm historicum Societatis lesu 2 (1933): 1-10. 

^'^ Paresce (Baltimore) to Beckx, Dec. 27, 1861, Marylandia 1009-XX-5, ARSI. 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 29 

tors who believed that crowded living arrangements, economic 
miseries, crime, and bad sanitation made the modern industrial city 
a poor place to train the young. 

Removed from All Dangers and Distractions 

Accordingly, Paresce settled instead on a 245-acre farm in 
Maryland's bucolic Patapsco Valley, twenty-five miles west of Balti- 
more, near the village of Woodstock. Thus it was that the Jesuit 
siege mentality combined with an American anti-urban bias to place 
the scholasticate in a secluded forest. The property, which was 
purchased in 1866 for $4,500, boasted all the advantages its planners 
dreamed of.^ Atop a sunny hill overlooking a stream, the wooded 
acreage was, reported Paresce, ''in the country far from our other 
houses and colleges in a healthy location." In this sylvan setting, the 
seminarians would be freed from the burden of prefecting and other 
competing labors while pursuing their sole responsibility, the study 
of philosophy and theology.^^ The institution was named Woodstock 

When authorities decreed that the new house of studies arise 
far from a large metropolis, they departed from the Society's earlier 
preference for urban settings. With the outbreak of national revolu- 
tions, however, many major cities, including Rome itself, had be- 
come perilous. When political unrest on a global scale hurled thou- 
sands of Jesuits into exile, caution and discretion became the new 
watchwords. ''We should take great care to leave nothing exposed 
which can in any way furnish our adversaries with matter for 
calumny, or with a specious pretext for increasing their opposition," 
Roothaan had warned in 1845. "One can hardly believe how watch- 
ful our enemies are, even of our most ordinary actions."^ In this 
uneasy milieu, Jesuits groped for safe surroundings in which to 


An additional 177 acres was annexed to the original tract in 1880. See 
[Ryan], "Woodstock College," 9, AGU. For an account of the opening of the college, 
see "North America," Letters and Notices [English Jesuit Province newsletter] 7 (1870): 

^^ Paresce (Baltimore) to Beckx, May 1865, Marylandia 1010-XXV-l. 

Roothaan, "A Letter upon Prosperity and the Dangers That Attend It," Select 
Letters of Our Very Reverend Fathers General to the Fathers and Brothers of the Society of 
Jesus (Woodstock, Maryland: Woodstock College Press, 1900), 265. 

30 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, SJ. 

school trainees. At odds with the world, they espoused a religious 
asceticism that reflected their alienation from the age. 

The beleaguered outlook that European expatriates brought to 
the United States found its counterpart in fears that Americans held 
about their own country. During the worst years of the Know 
Nothing movement. Catholic clergy kept a low profile in the hope of 
skirting nativist assault. Seminaries, a conspicuous focus of public 
scrutiny, exercised special caution, which was one of the reasons 
why Paresce objected to planting a program in Boston. During the 
Civil War, for example, superiors advised Jesuits to keep mum about 
the conflict lest they provoke offense and fan the flames of anti- 
Catholicism. And it did not help that an Italian Jesuit was arrested 
for the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Mistaken for John Wilkes 
Booth, to whom he bore a resemblance, Giovanni Guida was de- 
tained by authorities. Although released, news of his arrest fed a 
widespread rumor that Jesuits had participated in the murder of the 

In this troubled context, the site selected for the new seminary 
at Woodstock beckoned as a cordon sanitaire. Buffered by deep woods 
and stretching fields, it shielded seminarians, in Paresce's words, 
''from every danger and distraction.'' In that safe haven, they would 
be free to wear religious garb without fear of recrimination and to 
peruse their books without diversion. Nearby hamlets supplied 
opportunities to teach catechism and to preach "without being 
exposed to the dangers of the city." Like a self-contained military 
citadel, Woodstock College "provided every advantage that will 
promote orderliness [and] regular discipline."^^ 

A New Type of Seminary 

Flight to the countryside was also rooted in contemporary 
American attitudes about clerical education. Since the sixteenth- 
century Council of Trent, Catholics had believed that training should 
occur within the context of existing institutions. For diocesan semi- 

"P. Giovanni Battista Guida," Lettere edificanti della Promncia napoletana, 1914- 
1920 (Naples, 1921), 152 f. See also WL 49 (1920): 122-26; on Catholics and the Civil 
War, see McGreevy, Catholicism and American Freedom, 66-75. 

^^ Paresce (Baltimore) to Beckx, Dec. 27, 1861, Marylandia 1009-XX-5; and 
Paresce (Baltimore) to Beckx, n.d. May 1865, Marylandia 1010-XXV-l, both in ARSI. 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 31 

narians it had been the local cathedral, which was engaged in a host 
of activities of which the instruction of trainees was only one compo- 
nent. For members of religious orders such as the Jesuits, prepara- 
tion had taken place at a local college or university located in the 
heart of a city in the midst of a Catholic community. But the growth 
of the Church in the United States led to the emergence of a novel 
type of seminary. After 1850, small local institutions no longer met 
the needs of a Church that experienced massive immigration and 
climbing numbers of candidates for the priesthood. To consolidate 
resources and to provide more specialized formation, there devel- 
oped the free-standing seminary, an institution that existed indepen- 
dent of and apart from other ecclesiastical operations. 

This innovative academy was similar to other so-called total 
institutions of the period — penitentiaries and asylums for orphans 
and insane persons. In accord with current social theory, the care of 
prisoners, orphans, and the sick was best removed from local and 
familial settings and assigned to 

specialized establishments dedi- ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 
cated to providing for large num- 
bers. Hence, the free-standing ^^ 1^72, the college began 
seminary, like contemporary pris- publishing Woodstock 
ons, hospitals, and asylums, was Letters, a periodical 
devoted solely to one purpose: the dedicated to news 
training of large numbers of cler- about Jesuit 
gy. And, as one scholar has said, undertakings in the United 
the new institution, unlike its States and abroad. 
Tridentine predecessor, forged a 

milieu in which seminarians and ^^^^— -— -— ^^— — 
their priest-professors pursued a life divorced from other activities. A 
similar shift to a closed educational system occurred in Europe, 
particularly in response to anticlerical persecutions in the second half 
of the century. With few exceptions, detachment was bolstered by a 
physical setting apart from an urban neighborhood.^^ 

Woodstock College was one such place. A self-quarantined 
retreat whose sole raison d'etre was clerical formation, it was not 


Joseph M. White, "The Diocesan Seminary and the Community of Faith," 
U.S. Catholic Historian 11 (1993): 1-20; Joseph M. White, The Diocesan Seminary in the 
United States: A History from the 1870s to the Present (Notre Dame: Univ. of Notre 
Dame Press, 1989), 67-85. 

32 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, SJ. 

only armored against the distractions of the outside world, but 
supplied most of its own needs. Fields of crops, orchards, gardens, a 
vineyard, herds of cattle, barns, a slaughter house, carpenters' shops, 
laundry, and a hot house for the cultivation of plants — all testified to 
institutional independence, as did a baseball field, tennis courts, and 
a network of walking paths that offered opportunities for healthy 
exercise for the 162 young Jesuits who were enrolled by 1885. The 
College opened St. Inigo Manor in southern Maryland in 1876, a 
getaway where scholastics could take summer vacation in an envi- 
ronment as marooned and highly controlled as the seminary itself. 
Woodstock even created its own cemetery. The custodians of this 
vast enterprise were a staff of nearly thirty Jesuit brothers who 
performed the duties of cook, gardener, vintner, cattleman, carpen- 
ter, butcher, blacksmith, plumber, laundryman, tailor, shoemaker, 
night watchman, infirmarian, janitor, printer, and porter. As the 
historian John L. Ciani has observed in his excellent study of the 
institution, "Whatever the brothers could not do was brought in for 
the scholastics: the dentist came to them."^ 

From the print shop issued a flood of textbooks. These in- 
cluded volumes in theology, philosophy, science, and mathematics, 
as well as catechisms, programs and student theses. In 1872 the 

college began publishing Woodstock 

■ Letters, a periodical dedicated to 

The institution's leafy news about Jesuit undertakings in 

seclusion did not gladden its the United States and abroad. The 

occupants, however. journal remained in print until 

1969, when the theologate moved 
'^^"■^"^~""~— ~~~"^"^" to New York City. The Woodstock 

Press also produced the Messenger 
of the Sacred Heart, a popular religious magazine with wide circula- 
tion. Founded at Georgetown in 1866 by Benedetto Sestini, the 
journal transferred to Woodstock when its editor joined the faculty. 

Because of the priority given to instruction in the natural 
sciences, Paresce began assembling a physics cabinet and natural- 
history museum through purchases in Europe even before the 

^John L. Ciani, "Across a Wide Ocean: Salvatore Maria Brandi, S.J., and the 
'Civilta cattolica' from Americanism to Modernism, 1891-1914," (Ph.D. diss, presented 
at the University of Virginia, 1992), 66 f . In the pages that follow, I rely heavily upon 
Ciani for my analysis of early Woodstock College. 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 33 

college opened its doors. Carlo Piccirillo, a theologian with a passion 
for natural history, would later augment the collection by soliciting 
donations of mineral and biological specimens from missionaries and 
Woodstock graduates around the world. The seminary took advan- 
tage of its bridge to the American West. Some objects were obtained 
through barter, as when Piccirillo acquired ninety bird nests (130 
pounds worth) from a priest in the Southwest. "With each nest is a 
card indicating the genus and species of the bird," explained the 
donor, who in return received a subscription of Woodstock imprints 
for the Jesuit college in New Mexico.^^ 

The institution's leafy seclusion did not gladden its occupants, 
however. ''Cut off from every temptation to distraction or dissipation 
of mind," Woodstock provided "a noble home for the exclusive use 
of studies," one Jesuit allowed, but 
its isolation was depressing. "As _..i.»...i_^— 1^___ 

far as his sight could reach, trees Woodstock offered inmates 

were ever in view. When a stu- ^^ .^^^^ ^^ . ^^ .^ 

dent "mounted to the top of the ^^^.^^ ^^^ ^^^^.^^ ^^^ 

house he would find still more suicidmm (Either study 

and denser trees, and more far- or suicide). 

reaching to the North and West."^ 

"If any sound breaks the stillness," ^^^^^^^i— ^-^^^ 
another inmate wrote, "it is the 

wonted snorting of the locomotive, as it turns a corner close by, and 
thundering with the cars through the valley below is lost again 
round another bend: sic transit gloria mundi."^^ The place was as 
remote as the deserts of ancient Egypt. Jesuit wags contemplated 
posting over the main gate the warning that had startled Virgil and 
Dante on their descent into Hades: "Abandon all hope, you who 
enter here."^ 

F. X. Tomassini (Las Vegas, New Mexico) to Piccirillo, Feb. 1, 1880, Piccirillo 
Papers, Woodstock College Archives, University Library, Georgetown University, 
Washington, D.C. (hereafter abbreviated as WCA). See also "Father Charles Piccirillo; a 
Sketch," v^L 17 (1888): 339-50. 

^Dooley, Woodstock and Its Makers, 23, 47. 

^^ "North America," Letters and Notices 7 (1870): 55. 


Robert L Gannon, Up to the Present: The Story of Fordham (Garden City: 
Doubleday, 1967), 95. 

34 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, SJ. 

Woodstock's confinement weighed on the faculty. A classic 
response to the place was coined by Domenico Pantanella, a thirty- 
eight-year-old Neapolitan philosopher who arrived there after 
teaching at the lively Georgetown campus. Woodstock offered 
inmates two options, he quipped in Latin, Aut studium aut suicidium 
(Either study or suicide). "We live as exiles from our fatherland in a 
deserted place," Pantanella told friends in Italy.^^ "Everyone soon 
regretted the choice," Camillo Mazzella, the school's dean, admitted 
"but now that it is done, it cannot be undone."^" 

Scuola italiana 

Every detail of Woodstock's creation bore the imprint of Italy, 
from conception to design, from construction to daily operation. 
Felice Sopranis, acting on instructions from Rome, had mandated its 
erection. Angelo Paresce, from his headquarters in Baltimore, over- 
saw its founding, and when his term as provincial ended, he became 
its first rector. Benedetto Sestini, who transferred from Georgetown 
to Woodstock to teach mathematics and science, supervised much of 
the construction because, in the words of an ironic contemporary, 
the seminary's requirements lay "outside the experience of the 
ordinary architect." Its chapel was fashioned in "the Italian style," 
which mandated the importing of holy remains from Italy: under 
the high altar rested the "waxen body of a Roman soldier whose 
relics are encased in the body." The library and science museum 
were handsomely frescoed by the versatile Sestini. Domenico Panta- 
nella, a philosopher whose gifts lay in the practical realm, supervised 
the landscaping of the green park surrounding the college. Its 
centerpiece was a parterre designed "to reproduce the form of the 
plaza of St. Peter's in Rome." Even the workmen at the seminary 
were Italians, poor immigrants from New York whose destitution 
had moved Paresce to offer them employment.^^ 


Dooley, VJoodstock and Its Makers, 48; Domenico Pantanella (Woodstock) to 
Palomba, Oct. 8, 1872, ANPSJ, in Ciani, "Across a Wide Ocean," 57. 

^° Camillo Mazzella (Woodstock) to Palomba, June 25, 1876, ANPSj. The college 
was relocated to New York City in 1969. 


"Maryland: Letter from Brother Van Rensselaer," Letters and Notices 15 
(1882): 200-3; Dooley, Woodstock and Its Makers, 8, 52. "Many poor Italians have 
arrived in New York, peasants who were dying of starvation," wrote Joseph Keller. 
"Fr. Paresce went there and brought several back to work at Woodstock and they are 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 35 

Italy also supplied teachers. As early as 1862, Paresce had 
approached dispersed Neapolitans in Europe about staffing the 
scholasticate. America's climate, customs, and diet would exact "a not 
inconsiderable sacrifice," he warned, but the presence of other Italian 
expatriates would "make their coming considerably easier/' Besides, 
they were "not coming to live in the wilderness." They will discover 
here "a nation and a people that is 

highly civilized," a religious com- __,__^,^__^_,^^^____^__^__^ 
munity that "observes religious 

poverty, but is still comfortable," a Woodstock functioned as a 

decent library, and well-equipped /w/cmm between Europe and 
scientific laboratories containing the frontier, a place of 

"the best instruments from Paris." transition where 

"There is work for all," he contin- missionaries-to-be perfected 

ued, especially for men who were ^^^ ^^'^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^ "^^^ ^^ 
"young, have a good attitude, are mediators of cultures 

secure" in their vocation and "rea- ^^ ^^^ West. 

dy to adapt."^^ In 1867 Paresce .^_^^^^«««__ 
finalized a compact with Neapoli- 
tans who agreed to teach at Woodstock. In exchange, the Maryland 
Jesuits committed to educate the scholastics of the exiled province 
free of charge. With that consensus, Paresce acquired en bloc a cadre 
of experienced faculty, and the Neapolitans secured asylum for their 
younger men who, after finishing their studies and learning English, 
would take up work in the West. 

Thus it was that Woodstock College became for many Neapol- 
itans a stepping stone to their mission in distant New Mexico, 
launched that same year. There, in 1877, the exiles founded Las 
Vegas College, in New Mexico, which was transferred to Denver as 
Regis College. The Eastern seminary played a similar role for Pied- 
montese exiles on the Pacific Coast, who, although they did not 
regularly supply Woodstock with teachers, did send scholastics to 
Maryland for training. As one Jesuit explained, mastery in English 
could more easily be secured there than in Italy, "and good English 

happy there." See Keller (Baltimore) to Palomba, 2 Jan. 1873, ANPSJ. 

^^Sopranis (Rome) to Beckx, Sept. 25, 1861, Marylar\dia 1008-Sopranis l-IV-2, 
ARSi; Paresce (Baltimore) to Francisco Ferrante, Jan. 8, 1867, ANPSj; Paresce (Baltimore) 
to Beckx, May 1865, Marylandia 1010-XXV-l, ARSI. 

36 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, SJ. 

was more and more demanded at Santa Clara and San Francisco/'^^ 
Thus Woodstock functioned as a fulcrum between Europe and the 
frontier, a place of transition where missionaries-to-be perfected the 
skills they would need as mediators of cultures in the West. 

When Woodstock's founders assembled in 1869 to ceremoni- 
ally open the new scholasticate, six of the ten professors were Italian. 
Italians so dominated the place that Pantanella once told the Neapol- 
itan provincial, 'Tour reverence cannot have colleges in Italy, but 

console yourself with the one that 
— ^— ^^^^^-^^^— is in America."^* Even as they 
When the college opened, the gathered, the armies of united It- 
dean announced that it ^^Y ^^re preparing their final as- 

would model itself on the ^^^^^ ^^ ^^o^^' ^^^^^ ^^ 1^70 

Roman College, intending ^^^^^^ ^^^ ^^^ ^^ ^^^ P^P^l 

that the seminary would ^^^^^^ ^^^ t^t ^^^ expulsion of 

embrace both the pedagogy Jesuits from the new Italian na- 

J • X ri X 1 J. 4. £ tion. Displacement left its mark on 

and intellectual content of .i . rr ai . r .i 

„ ^ . . the staff. Almost every one of the 

Roman training. r- ^ r i^i-ji. \ i^ji. 

*^ first faculty had been touched by 

^^^^^-...i...i.i.i_.— ^_ revolution and exile, and many of 

them were long remembered for 
the ways in which the aftershocks had molded their character. The 
philosopher Carmelo Polino, for example, gave an impression to 
students that the Risorgimento had "cured him forever of any sympa- 
thy he might have had with the republican form of government and 
made him a staunch defender of absolutism."^^ 

The most distinguished of the scholarly emigres, thirty-six- 
year-old Camillo Mazzella, was equally unable to shake entrenched 
ideas brought over from Italy. Although soon an American citizen, 
the ample theologian remained suspicious of the tainted atmosphere 
of his new homeland. A veritable Niagra of opinions about the 
United States, he informed the Jesuit superior general that American 
culture was permeated with "materialism, naturalism, rationalism," 
and "indifferentism," errors which even tainted the clergy. Some 
American Jesuits, for instance, advocated the separation of church 


Dooley, Woodstock and Its Makers, 11. 

^^ Pantanella (Woodstock) to Palomba, Dec. 8, 1873, ANPSJ. 

Ciani, "Across a Wide Ocean," 55; Dooley, Woodstock and Its Makers, 85, 
137 f.; "Father Aloysius Sabetti," WL 29 (1900): 216-23. 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 37 

and state. Others failed to comprehend ''why the Pope does not 
allow Protestant churches to be built in Rome/' Mazzella was skepti- 
cal of Angelo Paresce and others of his countrymen who had accom- 
modated to life in the United States. Believing "everything here was 
better than in Italy or Naples/' such men had become, he chided, 
"more American than the Americans."^^ 

The Roman College Replicated 

It was not to the United States, therefore, that Mazzella turned 
for guidance in crafting Woodstock's curriculum. When the college 
opened, the dean announced that it would model itself on the 
Roman College, intending that the seminary would embrace both 
the pedagogy and intellectual content of Roman training. Accord- 
ingly, the philosophy program ballooned into a comprehensive 
three-year course, and the theology curriculum to four; both se- 
quences were based on the unitary Neo-Scholastic system that was 
currently being adopted abroad. So faithfully did Mazzella and his 
associates replicate the Roman prototype that their work drew praise 
from Archbishop Francesco SatoUi, apostolic delegate to the United 
States, when he visited the seminary. "The inmates of Woodstock," 
he declared, "though far distant from the Holy See, are imbued with 
the same doctrine, the same spirit which are fostered in the Eternal 

One of the ways in which Woodstock mirrored the CoUegio 
Romano was through its embrace of Scholasticism as developed by 
St. Thomas Aquinas. The rediscovery of Thomistic thought in the 
early-nineteenth century had sparked an intellectual revolution in 
Europe, and Mazzella and his colleagues — some of whom had been 
instrumental in promoting the revival in Italy — worked to introduce 
that tradition into the United States. In that endeavor they were 
strikingly successful. Their role in standardizing philosophical and 
theological instruction under the Thomistic banner testified to their 
potent ability to transform themselves from marginal castaways to 
major players in the American Church. Thus, the transplanted 
Italians of Woodstock — ^Mazzella, De Augustinis, Sabetti, Russo, 

^^ Mazzella (Woodstock) to Beckx, May 21, 1870, Marylandia lOlO-XXV-6, ARSI; 
Mazzella (Woodstock) to Palomba, June 25, 1876, ANPSJ. 

^^ "Archbishop Satolli at Woodstock," WL 19 (1890): 5. 

38 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, S.J. 

Brandi, and others — authored treatises that disseminated Thomism 
across the United States. By the 1890s that prototype was flourishing 
even in distant Montana, where scholastics at St. Ignatius Mission 
pored over Thomistic textbooks and manuals authored at Wood- 

The school's impact did not end with intellectual formation. By 
supporting Pope Leo XIII's campaign to restore the tradition of St. 
Thomas to a place of honor in Catholic institutions (outlined in his 
1879 encyclical, JEterni Fatris), the Woodstock scholars enhanced 

devotion to the Holy See. For 
• Neo-Thomists, the defense of 

Catholic doctrine and that of papal 
A liberal or progressive power were inextricably yoked. As 

consortium, dominated by John L. Ciani has observed, the 

Irish-Americans, sought to founders of Woodstock "were not 

form a more indigenous just exiles living in a foreign land 

Church by quickly adapting and recreating a universal and 

to American ways, static church as a substitute for 

home." They were, like their coun- 
''"~"^'""""^^''~'"~^~"""^"" trymen who became western mis- 
sionaries, "agents of a centralizing ecclesiastical authority desirous of 
universal and trans-Atlantic unity and uniformity in a threatening 
period of religious and political upheaval."^^ Their watchwords were 
not accommodation and inculturation — to use contemporary par- 
lance — ^but assimilation and conformity. 

Global Events 

The faculty's commitment to ecclesial centralization was evi- 
dent in their role in the so-called Americanist controversy that shook 
the Church at century's end. That struggle, which split the episco- 
pacy of the United States into opposing groups, centered on efforts 
to accommodate Catholicism to the American scene. A liberal or 
progressive consortium, dominated by Irish-Americans, sought to 


Wilfred P. Schoenberg, Jesuit Mission Presses in the Pacific Northwest: A 
History and Bibliography of Imprints, 1876-1899 (Portland: Champoeg Press, 1957) 42 f. 


Ciani, "Across a Wide Ocean/' 65. See also Gerald McCool, Catholic Theology 
in the Nineteenth Century: The Quest for a Unitary Method (New York: Seabury Press, 
1967), 27. 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 39 

form a more indigenous Church by quickly adapting to American 
ways. A rival bloc, dominated by traditionalists and Curia officials in 
Rome, emphasized the supranational character of the Church. 
Fearful that accommodation would undermine ecclesial solidarity 
and anxious lest the liberal contagion contaminate Europe, they 
promoted a continental European version of Catholicism and called 
for greater centralization of the American Church under Roman 

These disagreements were finally resolved by a series of papal 
interventions in favor of the transnational position. In 1895 Leo XIII 
issued a letter to the American hierarchy, Longinqua oceani, demand- 
ing conformity to Roman guidelines. Four years later, his encyclical 
Testem henevolentiee dismissed other notions associated with Ameri- 
canism^ including the idea that the Church should adapt its teaching 
to the modern age. Jesuits played no small role in the victory over 
Americanism. Among the most effective proponents of Romanization 
were Camillo Mazzella and Salvatore Brandi. By the time the contro- 
versy came to a head, both men had returned to Rome, the former 
as a cardinal of the Church and the latter as editor of the authorita- 
tive journal La civilta cattolica. The two former Woodstock professors 
not only led the charge against Americanism, they helped deliver its 
coup de grace. Brandi boasted authorship of Longinqua oceani, and 
Mazzella played a major role in the composition of Testem benevolen- 

To Teach Nothing New 

Although the Woodstock faculty won international celebrity 
for their part in bringing American Catholicism into alignment with 
the universal Church, they were not masters of creativity. The 
common threads running through their writings were unswerving 
dedication to Scholasticism, suspicion of modern ideas, and unshak- 
able defense of ecclesiastical authority. "He never claimed any 
originality," a confrere said of Luigi Sabetti, whose manual in moral 
theology. Compendium theologiee moralis, was printed in thirteen 
editions and adopted throughout the Catholic world. "I do not mean 


Ciani, "Across a Wide Ocean," 184 f., 206; Gerald P. Fogarty, The Vatican and 
the American Hierarchy from 1870 to 1965 (Wilmington, Del.: Michael Glazier, 1985), 

40 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, SJ. 

originality of principles for that would be a very dangerous claim for 
any theologian to make; but even originality of treatment/' Parrot- 
like, Sabetti simply adapted the principles of previous scholars ''to 
changed circumstances of time and place/'^^ Nor was creativeness 
the trademark of his associates. Teacher Emilio De Augustinis 
shunned "the dangerous gift of originality in theology/' wrote 
Patrick J. Dooley, a tongue-in-cheek chronicler of early Woodstock, 
"for originality bordered too closely on the precipice of heresy to suit 
his mind/' The theologian Salvatore Brandi, a disciple of Mazzella, 
plowed a similarly straight furrow. Although he was a popular 
lecturer, the iron maxim "error has no right to exist . . . guarded him 
from slipshod or faulty utter ance."^^ 

In reverence for what he perceived as Catholic tradition, 
Mazzella set the commanding example. "A big man, physically and 

intellectually," the lordly Neapoli- 
^^^_^^_^__^^^__^^^_______ tan "looked like a tower of ortho- 
doxy," Dooley said, "always fol- 
Mazzella's scholarship lowing in the footsteps of ap- 

centered on the argument proved leaders/' Although his 

that "there is one true publications flew off the shelf as 

religion which all men are fast as they were printed, Mazzel- 

held to confess and embrace." la's writing was largely derivative, 

as was the work of other faculty 
^^^^^^""""^""^^^^^^^ Neo-Thomists.^^ The dean 
summed up his approach to theology in his Latin textbook, Preeledi- 
ones de scholastico-dogmaticce de virtutihus, a scholastic survey of Chris- 
tian virtues that was published at Woodstock in 1871. The aim of his 
exposition was nova non docere (to teach nothing new).^ 

Mazzella's theological reading of the contemporary world was 
disclosed in another volume, entitled De religione et Ecclesia (Religion 


McCool, Catholic Theology, 238; "Father Aloysius Sabetti; An Autobiography 
with Reminiscences of His Former Pupils/' WL 29 (1900): 216, 227. 


Dooley, Woodstock and Its Makers, 140 f . 

^^Ibid., 29; "Cardinal Mazzella," WL 15 (1866): 289 f. 

Camillo Mazzella, Praelectiones scholastico-dogmaticse de virtutihus infusis in 
genere et de virtutihus theologicis in specie, quas in Seminario Soc. Jesu ad Woodstock hahuit 
[Mazzella] an. 1870-71 (Woodstock: Woodstock College Press, 1870), i; John L. 
Morrison, "A History of American Catholic Opinion on the Theory of Evolution, 
1859-1950," (Ph.D. diss., presented at the University of Missouri, 1951), 92 f. 


Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 41 

and the Church). Reprinted in at least five editions, the last of which 
was published in Rome, this thick tome found ready reception in 
seminaries in Europe and the United States. According to Ciani, 
Mazzella's scholarship centered on the argument that ''there is one 
true religion which all men are held to confess and embrace." This 
assertion was news to seminarians reared on the American principles 
of religious liberty and tolerance. He wrote: "Not only individuals, 
but society itself, must profess the true religion. Therefore, civil 
society itself must embrace religion revealed by God and must be 
subjected by means of infallible authority in these areas in those 
things which pertain to religion."^^ Giving only grudging acceptance 
to American practice, Mazzella differed with liberal bishops, who 
maintained that religious liberty and separation of church and state, 
as practiced in the United States, were the ideal environment for the 
Catholic Church. 

He also collided with Jesuits educated in the pre-Woodstock 
era. "Both as patriots and as Christians," the Georgetown president, 
Bernard A. Maguire, said in a 1870 commencement, "we should feel 
it our duty to oppose the establishment on the soil of our common 
country of a State religion, were it our own or any other." The 
principles of religious liberty and the independence of church and 
state, "we affirm and maintain, and shall ever affirm and maintain." 
Liberal opinions of this type were anathema to conservative spokes- 
men such as Mazzella and Brandi.^ 

III. A New Generation of Jesuits 

Why did Americans unquestioningly accept a theology that 
contradicted principles upon which they had been raised 
and which darkly critiqued their own culture? The young 
age of the seminarians (most were in their late teens or twenties) 
was certainly a factor, but social forces were also at work. The 

85 . 

Camillo Mazzella, De religione et ecclesia: Praelectiones scholastico-dogmaticse 
quas in collegia SS. Cordis ad Woodstock habuit [Mazzella] ann. 1875-6 (Woodstock: 
Woodstock College Press, 1876), in Ciani, "Across a Wide Ocean," 90-93. 


Maguire in John Gilmary Shea, Memorial of the First Centenary of Georgetown 
College, D.C., Comprising a History of Georgetown University by John Gilmary Shea, Ll.D., 
and an Account of the Centennial Celebration by a Member of the Faculty (Washington, 
D.C.: P. F. Collier, 1891), 231. 

42 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, SJ. 

separatist mentality that increasingly characterized the Catholic 
Church of immigrant America fostered an outlook that led students 
to glory in the uniqueness of their religion and its transnational 
institutions. An attractive feature of the Woodstock system was "its 
solid logic, its clever argumentation and its consistent, universal and 
eternal character,'' according to one appraisal. Rather than dispute 
with Protestants in the old controversialist mode, Woodstock's 
theologians proclaimed unabashedly not only that Catholics were 
different, but that they were intellectually and spiritually superior to 
their opponents.^^ 

Moreover, to members of a Church frequently subject to public 
ridicule, the recovery of Catholicism's intellectual tradition was a 
welcome antidote. Equally appealing was the knowledge that teach- 
ings promulgated at Woodstock reflected the centralizing of Catholic 
seminary education worldwide. The scholasticate gloried in constant 
reminders that it was part of an exciting global phenomenon — from 
the news reports that arrived daily from every corner of the Catholic 

world for publication in the YJood- 
__^_^__^_^___^__^^^____ stock Letters, to the accolades be- 
stowed upon the faculty from the 
Graduates who recorded highest authorities in the Church. 

recollections of the seminary j^ the classrooms of Woodstock, 
during its founding era eminent professors imparted to 

viewed the experience with American priests-to-be "a theology 

intense pride. The near- of universal and unchanging signi- 

celebrity status of their ficance which did not make excep- 

European mentors tions for one country or another, 

contributed to the conviction but held a general rule for the 
that those seminary days whole world."^ 

were a privileged time. In addition, the first genera- 

_^_____^^__^^____^_______ tion of Woodstock students saw 

themselves as actors in a historic 
drama that placed them on center stage of the Society's worldwide 
enterprise. Graduates who recorded recollections of the seminary 
during its founding era viewed the experience with intense pride. 
The near-celebrity status of their European mentors contributed to 
the conviction that those seminary days were a privileged time. That 

^^Ciani, "Across a Wide Ocean/' 108 f. 


Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 43 

belief was fortified by the scholasticate's sequestered environment, 
which precluded the possibility of comparing Woodstock with 
anything outside the Catholic intellectual ghetto. Consequently, 
while Jesuits lamented the rustico isolation of the college, they did 
not decry its theology. 

Ritorno in patria 

Although Woodstock was forever molded by its founding 
faculty, most of the Italians departed when new opportunities arose. 
After winning international repute by his promotion of Scholasti- 
cism, Mazzella was recalled to Rome to teach in 1878. Named a 
cardinal by Pope Leo XIII eight years later, he continued to influence 
American Catholicism through his high office in the Roman Curia 
that supervised seminary education worldwide. After Mazzella was 
promoted to the cardinalate, Woodstock's Emilio De Augustinis 
succeeded him as professor at the Roman College. Another papal 
summons repatriated Salvatore Brandi to Rome in 1891. After sixteen 
years in America, he became a writer for Civilta cattolica and advisor 
to the Vatican on American affairs. Other Neapolitan professors — 
Pantanella, Schiffini, and Degni — became missionaries in New 
Mexico. By 1884 six of Woodstock's founding faculty had left Mary- 
land, and with their leave-taking, Neapolitan domination dwindled. 

There was no campaign to replace the departing Neapolitans. 
The theologian Carlo Piccirillo, a Roman, claimed that their "harsh- 
ness and severity" had so alienated American students that there 
was no desire to import surrogates. But there were other reasons 
why Neapolitan influence faded, the chief being that the Naples 
Province had diverted most of its personnel to its Southwestern 
mission. Moreover, Woodstock's leaden reliance on foreigners had 
become an embarrassment. ''It does not look well for our Society in 
America to be depending so much and so long on Europe for profes- 
sors," observed Nicola Congiato, the Piedmontese superior of the 
California Mission. Anticipating a sentiment voiced in Africa and 
Asia in the twentieth century, Congiato declared, "The Society is no 
longer in its infancy here," and therefore native teachers should 
begin supplanting the Europeans.^^ 


Piccirillo (Woodstock) to Ganger, Mar. 11, 1884, ANPSJ; Congiato (San Jose) 
to Robert Fulton, Nov. 28, 1886, Marylandia lOlO-XXV-17, ARSI. Mazzella cautioned 

44 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, SJ. 

Substitutes for the Neapolitans were not easily found — in part 
because they had not aligned others to take their place. According to 
Piccirillo, Woodstock's founders had "formed a deeply rooted 
opinion" that no Americans should be allowed to teach at the semi- 
nary, especially in theology.^ Conversely, native Jesuits, repelled by 
the scholasticate's woeful isolation, bucked at assignment there, and 
as a consequence, years passed before American professors eclipsed 

the foreigners. It was not until 
^^______^__^^_^_^____^_^ 1904, thirty-five years after Wood- 
stock's founding, that all of its 
Admired for its faithful nineteen faculty save one be- 

implementation of Roman longed to the Maryland-New York 

ecclesiastical policy, Province. In the interval, a more 

Woodstock emerged by the cosmopolitan staff began to form 

lS90s as the intellectual with the arrival of Jesuits from 

center of American Germany, Switzerland, France, 

Catholic ultramontanism. and Ireland. These outsiders were 

more acceptable to the student 

body than the Neapolitans had 
been. The German theologian, Friderick Brambring, who arrived in 
1883, for example, was welcomed not only for his erudition, but 
because his generous treatment of scholarly adversaries was more 
palatable to Americans than had been the disdainful dismissals of 
Mazzella and De Augustinis. "Logic and sound principle, not 
sneers," a student recorded, "was his mode of refutation."^^ 

Despite shifts in faculty, the scholasticate did not abandon its 
program of standardization. Widely acclaimed as the academic 
flagship of the Society of Jesus in America, Woodstock championed 
the Neo-Scholastic tradition and Roman-style training, and because 
of this, drew a large student body. By 1886 the College enrolled 168 

Italian officials not to promote or "to publicize what our Neapolitan Jesuits have done 
in this province" because "what would cause satisfaction in Naples would cause 
dissatisfaction here." See Mazzella (Philadelphia) to Palomba, Apr. 12, 1876, ANPSJ. 


Piccirillo (Woodstock) to Ganger, Apr. 4, 1887, ANPSJ, in Ciani, "Across a 
Wide Ocean," 65. That Americans were ostracized from teaching was confirmed by 
the Maryland provincial. It has been the policy that "we would have no American 
professors in Woodstock," wrote Robert Fulton, "unless we were compelled to get 
them by the withdrawal of the European professors." See Fulton (Baltimore) to 
Anderledy, Mar. 11, 1886, Marylandia 1010-IV-lO, ARSI. 

^^ Dooley, Woodstock and Its Makers, 152; [Ryan], "Woodstock College," 2, AGU. 

Italian Jesuits in Man/land ^ 45 

Jesuit philosophers and theologians. At the time of its thirty-fifth 
anniversary, 552 alumni had been ordained priests, disseminating 
across America the theology they had learned at Woodstock. Luigi 
Sabetti boasted that his class in moral theology enrolling 67 seminari- 
ans constituted the largest congregation of Jesuit students in the 

Admired for its faithful implementation of Roman ecclesiastical 
policy, Woodstock emerged by the 1890s as the intellectual center of 
American Catholic ultramontanism. The faculty were internationally 
renowned, evidenced by the Roman appointments of its professors, 
by the wide circulation of their textbooks, and by the frequency with 
which its experts were consulted by scholars and the episcopal 
hierarchy. When the bishops of the United States met in Baltimore 
in plenary council in 1884, Antonio Sabetti rejoiced that four of the 
seven Jesuits invited as theological 

advisors came from Woodstock. """ ' "" 

What a "spectacle and embarrass- From the ranks 

ment for old Europe," he gloated.^^ of Woodstock alumni 

American Jesuits acknowl- came the next generation 

edged the benefits they had de- of leaders in the 

rived from Woodstock's founders. United States, 

"Maryland owes its life to Naples," ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 
a grateful Joseph Keller, the Mary- 
land provincial, declared in 1872. "God alone can repay the province 
of Naples for all that it has done for Maryland. Without Naples we 
would still be doing our ABC's." European mentors had generated 
Americans who were better educated and more deeply schooled in 
the traditions of the Society than ever before. From the ranks of 
Woodstock alumni came the next generation of leaders in the United 
States.^'^ The seminary's trickle-down influence was not limited to 
religion, for its elevated academic status set the standard in a variety 
of non-theological subjects. "What course of mathematics [is] fol- 


[Ryan], "Woodstock," 3, AGU; Sabetti (Woodstock) to Anderledy, Oct. 14, 
1884, Marylandia lOlO-XXV-12, ARSI. 


Curran, American Jesuit Spirituality, 35; Sabetti (Woodstock) to Vioni, Dec. 14, 
1884, ANPSJ. 


Keller (Baltimore) to Palomba, Aug. 3, 1872, and Sept. 20, 1872, anpsj. On 
American Jesuit observance of the rules, see also Fulton (New York) to Anderledy, 
June 1, 1884, Marylandia lOlO-IV-3, ARSI. 

46 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, SJ. 

lowed at Woodstock?" a teacher in Maryland asked in 1883. "I shall 
have to get some new books in algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. 
. . . [and] it would be better for me to procure the same as you use 
at Woodstock."'' 

The Legacy 

In assessing the institution's significance, there was much to 
applaud. When an early chronicler claimed that there was "no more 
decisive turning point in the story of Jesuit development in America" 
than the opening of Woodstock, he was not far from the truth.^ The 
seminary's European faculty transformed the way theology was 
taught to Americans. Indeed, Bishop John Lancaster Spaulding of 
Peoria, a leading advocate of higher intellectual standards for priests 
in training, declared in 1881 that Woodstock alone among American 
seminaries provided young clerics with the "best intellectual cul- 
ture." What they learned was a vast improvement over the indis- 
criminate schooling of the previous era when seminaries were 
moored to college campuses. By upgrading the caliber of instruction, 
Woodstock professionalized the clergy, thereby launching a tradition 
of theological reflection and scholarship that endured for over a 
century. Moreover, with the passing of time, improvements in 
pedagogy emerged. "By the 1930s and 1940s," one study notes, 
when "some of the strange edges of the system had been rounded 
off," Woodstock was praised for producing "the clerical elite of 
Catholicism." From its classrooms there emerged several of the most 
influential theologians of the twentieth-century American Church, 
including John Courtney Murray and Gustave Weigel, whose views 
guided the Second Vatican Council.'^ 

But Woodstock's early impress was not entirely benign. It did 
not benefit the colleges that had opposed its creation. President 
Bernard A. Maguire complained that Georgetown "suffered for some 

'^A. T. Tisdall (Frederick, Maryland) to Piccirillo, Feb. 22, 1883, Piccirillo 
Papers, WCA. 


Garraghan, Jesuits, 1:645. 

^^ Spaulding cited in Michael V. Gannon, "Before and after Modernism," in 
The Catholic Priest in the United States, 321, 362. See also Peter McDonough, Men 
Astutely Trained: A History of the Jesuits in the American Century (New York: Free Press, 
1992), 153-56; McGreevy, Catholicism and American Freedom, 107, 154 f . 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 47 

time" after the scholasticate took flight, because the college was 
obliged to hire lay teachers and prefects to replace the departing 
Jesuits. Thirty years later. President Joseph Havens Richards bitterly 
condemned Woodstock's creation as "a grave error of policy/' "Pro- 
fessors and students were transported to a semi-wilderness, remote 
from libraries, from contact with the learned world, and from all 
those stimulating influences which affect intellectual life in large 
centres of population and culture." Stripped of its best faculty, 
Georgetown failed to become a major theological base. Competing 
with nearby Catholic University, founded in 1889 as a graduate 
school of theology, Georgetown's program was whittled down, 
Richards lamented, "to a place of inferiority by the fact of the divi- 
sion of our resources."^^ 

As Richards intimated, the seminary's segregation bore fruit its 
founders never foresaw. Although seclusion liberated seminarians 
from the distractions of a college campus, it also posed serious 
drawbacks. In the pre-Woodstock era, the education of priests had 
taken place in close proximity to 
the communities that they 
eventually served. Disregarding 

lofty questions of speculative the- But its excessively 

ology, training had centered al- speculative orientation meant 
most exclusively on meeting the that important areas of 

Protestant challenge and on grap- theological inquiry — 

pling with the practical religious Scripture, history, and 

and moral issues of the day. The patristics — were neglected. 

Neo-Scholastic system inaugurated 

at Woodstock was more academi- — — — — ^— — ^-^— ^ 
cally rigorous. But its excessively speculative orientation meant that 
important areas of theological inquiry — Scripture, history, and 
patristics — were neglected. And by shielding students from engage- 
ment with the outside environment, the scholasticate thwarted their 
understanding of the very society to which they were being sent. 

Woodstock's physical seclusion mirrored and abetted its 
intellectual isolation. Its European-born faculty, reared from an early 
age in a clerical subculture and victims of revolution, regarded the 
non-Catholic world as error-ridden and rife with threat. As an 
upshot of their self-imposed estrangement, they lived as if in a 


Maguire, "Notes," AGU; Richards, "An Explanation/' VJL 26 (1897): 149, 153. 

48 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, S.J. 

bubble, perilously ignorant of modern philosophy, science, and 
culture. Guided by the increasingly centralizing power of Rome, 
Catholic seminary education in the United States was marred by an 
unwillingness to reflect positively on secular culture and on the 
American Catholic experience. Shackled to a blinkered interpretation 
of the Thomistic tradition, it suffered, in the words of one historian, 
from "the virtually complete absence of any attempt to venture 
beyond the approved interpretations of the standard authors." As a 
consequence, Woodstock College, like most late-nineteenth-century 
Catholic seminaries in the United States and Europe, spawned a 
static system of instruction, ''frozen in a mold that was universally 
believed to have been fixed at the Council of Trent."^ 

Woodstock's intellectual disengagement from the world, which 
paralleled the isolation of the Church itself on a global scale, thus 
had long-run import for Catholic theology. As the scholar Gerald A. 
McCool has observed. Catholic philosophers' and theologians' dis- 
dain for modernity prevented the Church from dealing effectively 
with the challenges posed by modern exegesis and historical method 
when these were applied to theological questions. As a result, they 
could not appreciate "the genuine questions with which modern 
historical science and modern philosophy confronted the church at 
the time of the modernist crisis." Thus, for all the benefits it brought 
to American Catholicism, the institution's heritage was for many 
years mixed.^°° 

Broadening the Base 

Woodstock's hand reached across the continent. Piedmontese 
Jesuits in the Far West, lacking cash and personnel to open good 
institutions of their own, looked instead to Maryland to train their 
scholastics. Thus, the cautious and critical mentality that shaped 
theological training in the East was extended westward. Woodstock 
provided more than academic and spiritual preparation to frontier 
clergy, however. Jesuits destined for the Rocky Mountain Mission 
also received their instruction in practical skills that aided their work 
among Native Americans. As soon as Alessandro Diomedi made 
footfall in the United States in 1874, for example, he rushed to 

^ Ellis, "Formation," The Catholic Priest, 28, 32 f., 40-44. 
^°° McCool, Catholic Theology, 239 L 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 49 

Woodstock to master the printer's trade before cantering off to the 
Indian missions. Thus prepared, he founded the St. Ignatius Mission 
Press in Montana, which published scores of dictionaries and gram- 
mars of native languages. Giuseppe Marra, future editor of La revista 
catolica, the Jesuits' Spanish-language newspaper of the Southwest, 
likewise learned the publisher's art at Woodstock. 

The seminary's imprint on frontier life did not end with the 
ordination of its graduates. Once they had emigrated west, mission- 
ary priests found the Woodstock Letters an effective instrument for 
publicizing their work and for winning fresh recruits for Oregon, 
Alaska, California, and New Mexico. And just as Georgetown Col- 
lege stood as an early exemplar of American education for expatriate 
Jesuits in the West, so too Woodstock became a fixed reference in 
matters philosophical and theological. Accordingly, when missionar- 
ies later opened their own houses 

of study in the California and -^— ^— ^— ^^^^^^^—i 
Rocky Mountain Missions, Mary- y^^^ missionaries later 

land's seminary provided the text- ^^^^^^ ^;^^^y ^^ ^^^^^^ ^^ 

books, manuals, and curricular study in the California and 

pro otype. Rocky Mountain Missions, 

The bond between Wood- Maryland's seminary 

stock College and New Mexico provided the textbooks, 

was particularly close. Not only manuals, and curricular 

did the seminary render a ''contin- prototype. 

ual subsidy" to Jesuit operations in 

the West, as one professor re- ^^^-^^^^— ^^^^— - 
counted, it also supplied person- 
nel. Even building design was transferred from East to West. When 
Domenico Pantanella founded Sacred Heart College in Denver, 
Woodstock served as a template in both its architecture and its 
curriculum. As the Woodstock Letters proudly reported, students of 
philosophy in Colorado "follow the same order of exercises as 
Woodstock, and use Schiffini as their textbook." From Maryland, 
Neapolitan seminary professors also supervised operations in New 
Mexico, advising superiors in both Albuquerque and Naples how 
best to govern that challenging mission. Camillo Mazzella was twice 
sent west as official visitor to unravel crises in the governance of the 

^^ Sabetti (Woodstock) to Vioni, Sept. 13, 1882, ANPSJ; VJL 25 (1896): 332. 

50 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, SJ. 

The ideal of a sequestered seminary, established first in Mary- 
land, was replicated by Jesuits across the United States. As missionar- 
ies advanced westward, penury compelled them to return tempo- 
rarily to the old practice of locating scholasticates on a college cam- 
pus. But the detached Woodstock model eventually caught up with 
them and they warmly embraced it. The Piedmontese in California, 
for example, had for over thirty years trained their Jesuits-to-be at 
Santa Clara College. Once the number of applicants became suffi- 
ciently large, however, the seminary was relocated in 1888 from the 
"the hubbub of a boarding school" to a bucolic site near the village 
of Los Gatos, California. On an unpeopled hillside amid vineyards 
and olive groves, Jesuit trainees lived in splendid solitude, cocooned 
in a protected subculture — ^just like their confreres at Woodstock 
College. 'There we will be in wilderness,'' wrote a credulous semi- 
narian, "a long way from other dwellings [in] a real earthly para- 
dise."^°^ The tradition of a closed seminary, isolated from worldly 
distractions, would remain the Jesuit standard until 1966, when the 
Thirty-first General Congregation mandated that novices "should 
have sufficient social contact with their contemporaries." Novitiates, 
the congregation declared, should "be located in a place where the 
novices' probation can be conducted according to the manner of life 
proper to the Society."^°^ 

IV. Conclusion 

Does the story of the Italian immigrants in Maryland help us 
reflect on the contemporary Society of Jesus? It certainly 
reminds us that the narrative of Jesuit history is not con- 
fined to the epoch of St. Ignatius and the first companions. The saga 
of the Italian expatriates of Maryland suggests that balance is needed 
in chronicling the order's historic evolution. Most of us know little 
about the nineteenth-century Society. Since the 1960s, researchers 
have focused the lens of their research on the organization's six- 

^^^Ciravegna (Monaco) to Beckx, Apr. 18, 1870, Taur. lOlO-III-ll, ARSI; Weckx 

(Santa Clara) to Mola, June 1888, ANPSJ 

College, 1967), 23 

Documents of the Thirty-first General Congregation (Woodstock: Woodstock 

Italian Jesuits in Maryland ^ 51 

teenth-century origins, a consequence of the impetus given by 
Vatican II to the rediscovery of the sources of religious life. While 
this emphasis has resulted in many groundbreaking studies, it has 
also created the impression that this era stood as an archetype for all 
subsequent Jesuit history. But as John W. O'Malley, author of The 
First Jesuits, has cautioned, the Society of Jesus is best understood by 
looking beyond its founding moment and early documents. We 
cannot presume that "the ship sails through the sea of history 
without being touched by it." We must grasp how the organization 
existed and changed in different historical periods if we are to truly 
understand the institution we have inherited.^^ For the nineteenth 
century, that lacuna remains especially stark. 

The story of the emigration of Italian Jesuits to nineteenth- 
century Maryland describes a small portion of that history. What 
does it tell us? For one thing, it reveals that immigration, multicul- 
turalism, and ethnic diversity are 

not solely contemporary phenom- ■^^~~'^"^~— ~~"'"^"~'""" 
ena. Indeed, they have been defin- Considering the central role 

ing experiences of the American that displacement has played 
Society since its beginning. The in their own history, it is 

order is what it is today, in part, fitting that Jesuits of our 

because of the European refugees ^^'^^ ^^^^^^ ^^ ^^ ^^«^ ^^^ 

who sustained its membership at a ^^^ ^^ ^^^ refugees and 

critical time. Their coming trans- displaced persons in 

formed the Society's isolated today's world. 

American branch from an organi- ^—i— .^^_^^^^ii-^^ 
zation dominated by local conven- 
tions into a more diverse and global body integrated into the wider 
life of the Church and the Society at large. What historians have said 
of the impetus given to Georgetown College by the emigration of 
Jesuits from abroad can be applied to the American Society as a 
whole: their influence "can scarcely be over stressed."^°^ Considering 
the central role that displacement has played in their own history, it 

John W. O'Malley, The First Jesuits (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1993); 
id., ''How the Jesuits Changed: 1540-56," America, July 27, 1991, 32. 

Durkin, Georgetown University, 27. 

52 ^ Gerald L. McKevitt, SJ. 

is fitting that Jesuits of our time desire to do what they can to aid 
refugees and displaced persons in today's world.^°^ 

The refugee story also invites the contemporary Society to a 
fuller understanding of its mission and charism. The interaction of 
Italian and American traditions in nineteenth-century Maryland 
confirms an observation of a recent Jesuit general congregation: "As 
an international apostolic body, the Society is uniquely able to draw 
upon a range of cultural experience in its ministries" that enriches 
intercultural dialogue. But the congregation also recognizes that 
Jesuit evangelizers in the past have not always succeeded in insert- 
ing themselves "into the heart of a culture, but instead have re- 
mained a foreign presence."^°^ The implementation of the Jesuit 
charism of adapting all things to "the circumstances of persons, 
times, and places" has never been easy.^°^ Jesuits of the nineteenth 
century struggled just as intensely to maintain unity of hearts and 
minds as do their modem successors who cope with diverging 
cultural sensibilities and age differences. The mixing of cultures 
inevitably provokes tension and challenge as religious from diverse 
backgrounds struggle to find common ground amid disparate views 
of what is essential to Jesuit life and ministry. While the term "incul- 
turation" may be a recent addition to the Jesuit vocabulary, the task 
of accommodating the Gospel to varied cultures is as complex as it is 


See "Our Mission and Justice/' Documents of the Thirty-fourth General 
Congregation of the Society of Jesus (St. Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1995), 45. 

^°^"Our Mission and Culture," ibid., 65, 55. 


The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus and Their Complementary Norms (St. 
Louis: The Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1996), no. 343''^ (p. 144); George E. Ganns, Saint 
Ignatiu^ Idea of a Jesuit University (Milwaukee: Marquette Univ. Press, 1956), 79 f . 

Past Issues: Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 

(For prices, see inside back cover.) 

1/1 Sheets, Profile of the Contemporary Jesuit (Sept. 1969) 
1/2 Gauss, Authentic Spiritual Exercises: History and Terminology (Nov. 1969) 
2/1 Burke, Institution and Person (Feb. 1970) 
2/2 Futrell, Ignatian Discernment (Apr. 1970) 
2/3 Lonergan, Response of the Jesuit as Priest and Apostle (Sept. 1970) 
3/1 Wright, Grace of Our Founder and the Grace of Our Vocation (Feb. 1971) 
3/2 O'Flaherty, Some Reflections on Jesuit Commitment (Apr. 1971) 
3/4 Toner, A Method for Communal Discernment of God's Will (Sept. 1971) 
3/5 Sheets, Toward a Theology of the Religious Life (Nov. 1971) 
4/2 Two Discussions: I. Spiritual Direction, II. Leadership and Authority (Mar. 1972) 
4/3 Orsy, Some Questions about the Purpose and Scope of the General Congregation (June 1972) 
4/4 Ganss, Wright, CMalley, O'Donovan, Dulles, On Continuity and Change: A Symposium 
(Oa. 1972) 
5/1-2 OTlaherty, Renewal: Call and Response (Jan.-Mar. 1973) 
5/3 Arrupe, McNaspy, The Place of Art in Jesuit Life (Apr. 1973) 
5/4 Haughey, The Pentecostal Thing and Jesuits (June 1973) 

5/5 Orsy, Toward a Theological Evaluation of Communal Discernment (Oct. 1973) 
6/3 Knight, Jcry and Judgment in Religious Obedience (Apr. 1974) 
7/1 Wright, Ganss, Orsy, On Thinking with the Church Today (Jan. 1975) 
7/2 Ganss, Christian Life Communities from the Sodalities (Mar. 1975) 
7/3 Connolly, Contemporary Spiritual Direction: Scope and Principles (June 1975) 
7/5 Buckley, The Confirmation of a Promise; Padberg, Continuity and Change in General 

Congregation XXXII (Nov. 1975) 
8/1 O'Neill, Acatamiento: Ignatian Reverence (Jan. 1976) 
8/2-3 De la Costa, Sheridan, and others, On Becoming Poor: A Symposium on Evangelical Poverty 
(Mar.-May 1976) 
8/4 Faricy, Jesuit Community: Community of Prayer (Oct. 1976) 
9/1-2 Becker, Changes in U.S. Jesuit Membership, 1958-73; Others, Reactions and Explanations 
(Jan.-Mar. 1977) 
9/4 Connolly, Land, Jesuit Spiritualities and the Struck for Social Justice (Sept. 197^. 
9/5 Gill, A Jesuit's Account of Conscience (Nov. 1977) 
10/1 Kammer, "Bum-Out"— Dilemma for the Jesuit Social Activist Qan. 1978) 
10/4 Harvanek, Status of Obedience in the Society of Jesus; Others, Reactions to Connolly-Land 

(Sept. 1978) 
11/1 Clancy, Feeling Bad about Feeling Good (Jan. 1979) 

11/2 Maruca, Our Personal Witness as Power to Evangelize Culture (Mar. 1979) 
11/3 Klein, American Jesuits and the Liturgy (May 1979) 
11/5 Conwell, The Kamikaze Factor: Choosing Jesuit Ministries (Nov. 1979) 
12/2 Henriot, Appleyard, Klein, Living Together in Mission: A Symposium on Small Apostolic 
Communities (Mar. 1980) 

Conwell, Living and Crying in the Society of Jesus (May 1980) 

Schineller, Newer Approaches to Qrristology and Their Use in the Spiritual Exercises (Sept. -Nov. 

13/1 Peter, Alcoholism in Jesuit Life (fan. 1981) 

13/3 Ganss, Towards Understanding the Jesuit Brothers' Vocation (May 1981) 

13/4 Reites, St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Jews (Sept. 1981) 

14/1 O'Malley, The Jesuits, St. Ignatius, and the Counter Reformation 0an. 1982) 

14/2 Dulles, St. Ignatius and Jesuit Theological Tradition (Mar. 1982) 

14/4 Gray, An Experience in Ignatian Government (Sept. 1982) 

14/5 Ivern, The Future of Faith and Justice: Review of Decree Four (Nov. 1982) 

15/1 O'Malley, The Fourth Vow in Its Ignatian Context (Jan. 1983) 

15/2 Sullivan and Faricy , On Making the Spiritual Exercises for Renewal of Jesuit Charisms (Mar. 


15/3-4 Padberg, The Society True to Itself: A Brief History of the 32nd General Congregation of the 

Society of Jesus (May-Sept. 1983) 

15/5-16/1 Tetlow, Jesuits' Mission in Higher Education (Nov. 1983-Jan. 1984) 

16/2 O'Malley, To Travel to Any Part of the World: Jeronimo Nodal and the Jesuit Vocation (Mar. 


16/3 O'Hanlon, Integration of Christian Practices: A Western Christian Looks East (May 1984) 

16/4 Carlson, "A Faith Lived Out of Doors": Ongoing Formation (Sept. 1984) ■ 

17/1 Spohn, St. Paul on Apostolic Celibacy and the Body of Christ (fan. 1985) 

17/2 Daley, "In Ten Thousand Places": Christian Universality and the Jesuit Mission (Mar. 1985) 

17/3 Tetlow, Dialogue on the Sexual Maturing of Celibates (May 1985) 

17/4 Spohn, Coleman, Clarke, Henriot, Jesuits and Peacemaking (Sept. 1985) 

17/5 Kinerk, When Jesuits Pray: A Perspective on the Prayer of Apostolic Persons (Nov. 1985) 

18/1 Gelpi, The Converting Jesuit Qan. 1986). 

18/2 Beirne, Compass and Catalyst: The Ministry of Administration. (Mar. 1986) 

18/3 McCormick, Bishops as Teachers and Jesuits as Listeners (May 1986) 

18/5 Tetlow, The Transformation of Jesuit Poverty (Nov. 1986). 

19/1 Staudenmaier, United States Technology and Adult Commitment (fan. 1987) 

19/2 Appleyard, Languages We Use: Talking about Religious Experience (Mar. 1987) 

19/5 Endean, Who Do You Say Ignatius Is? Jesuit Fundamentalism and Beyond (Nov. 1987) 

20/1 Brackley, Downward Mobility: Social Implications of St Ignatius's Two Standards (fan. 1988) ] 

20/2 Padberg, How We Live Where We Live (Mar. 1988) 

20/3 Hayes, Padberg, Staudenmaier, Symbols, Devotions, and Jesuits (May 1988) 

20/4 McGovern, Jesuit Education and Jesuit Spirituality (Sept. 1988) 

20/5 Barry, Jesuit Formation Today: An Invitation to Dialo^e and Involvement (Nov. 1988) 

21/1 Wilson, Where Do We Belong? United States Jesuits and Their Memberships Qan. 1989) 

21/2 Demoustier, Calvez, et al., The Disturbing Subject: The Option for the Poor (Mar. 1989) 

21/3 Soukup, /ej«it Response to the Communication Revolution (May 1989) 

22/1 Carroll, The Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life Qan. 1990) 

22/2 Bracken, Jesuit Spirituality from a Process Prospective (March 1990) 

22/3 Shepherd, Fire for a Weekend: An Experience of the Exercises (May 1990) 

22/4 O'SulUvan, Trust Your Feelings, but Use Your Head (Sept. 1990) 

22/5 Coleman, A Company of Critics: Jesuits and the Intellectual Life (Nov. 1990) 

23/1 Houdek, The Road Too Often Traveled Qan. 1991) 

23/2 DiGiacomo, Ministering to the Young (March 1991) 

23/3 Begheyn and Bogart, A Bibliography on St. Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises (May 1991) 

23/4 Shelton, Reflections on the Mental Health of Jesuits (Sept. 1991) 

23/5 Toolan, "Nature Is a Heraclitean Fire" (Nov. 1991) 

24/1 Houdek, Jesuit Prayer and Jesuit Ministry: Context and Possibilities (Jan. 1992) 

24/2 Smolich, Testing the Water: Jesuits Accompanying the Poor (March 1992) 

24/3 Hassel, Jesus Christ Changing Yesterday, Today, and Forever (May 1992) 

24/4 Shelton, Toward Healthy Jesuit Community Living (Sept. 1992) 

24/5 Cook, Jesus' Parables and the Faith That Does Justice (Nov. 1992) 

25/2 Donahue, What Does the Lord Require? (March 1993)— ONCE AGAIN AVAILABLE 

25/3 Padberg, Ignatius, the Popes, and Realistic Reverence (May 1993) 

25/4 Stahel, Toward General Congregation 34 (Sept. 1993) 

25/5 Baldovin, Christian Liturgy: An Annotated Bibliography (Nov. 1993) 

26/1 Tetlow, The Most Postmodern Prayer (Jan. 1994) 

26/2 Murphy, The Many Ways of Justice (March 1994) 

26/3 Staudenmaier, To Fall in Love with the World (May 1994) 

26/4 Foley, Stepping into the River (Sept. 1994) 

26/5 Landy, Myths That Shape Us (Nov. 1994) 

27/1 Daley, "To Be More like Christ" (Jan. 1995) 

27/2 Schmidt, Portraits and Landscapes (March 1995) 

27/3 Stockhausen, Pd Love to, but I Don't Have the Time (May 1995) 

27/4 Anderson, Jesuits in Jail, Ignatius to the Present (Sept. 1995) 

27/5 Shelton, Friendship in Jesuit Life (Nov. 1995) 

28/1 Begheyn, Bibliography on the History of the Jesuits (Jan. 1996) 

28/3 Clooney, In Ten Thousand Places, in Every Blade of Grass (May 1996) 

28/4 Starkloff, "As Different As Night and Day" (Sept. 1996) 

28/5 Beckett, Listening to Our History (Nov. 1996) 

29/1 Hamm, Preaching Biblical Justice (Jan. 1997) 

29/2 Padberg, The Three Forgotten Founders (March 1997) 

29/3 Byrne, Jesuits and Parish Ministry (May 1997) 

29/4 Keenan, Are Informationes Ethical? (Sept. 1997) 

29/5 FerUta, The Road to Bethlehem-Is It Level or Winding? (Nov. 1997) 

30/1 Shore, The Vita Christi ofLudolph of Saxony and Its Influence on the Spiritual Exercises of 

Ignatius of Loyola Qan. 1998) 

30/2 Starkloff, "I'm No Theologian, but . . . (or So . . . )?" (March 1998) 

30/3 Torrens, The Word That Clamors (May 1998) 

30/4 Petrik, "Being Sent" (Sept. 1998) 

30/5 Jackson, "One and the Same Vocation" (Nov. 1998) 

31/1 Clifford, Scripture and the Exercises (Jan. 1999) 

31/2 Toohig, Physics Research, a Search for God (March 1999) 

31/3 Fagin, Fidelity in the Church— Then and Now (May 1999) 

31/4 SchmeUer, Pilgrim Journey of Ignatius (Sept. 1999) 

31/5 FuHsuocy, Juana, S.J: Status of Women in the Society (Nov. 1999) 

32/1 Langan, The Good of Obedience in a Culture of Autonomy (Jan. 2000) 

32/2 Blake, Listen with Your Eyes (March 2000) 

32/3 Shelton, When a Jesuit Counsels Others (May 2000) 

32/4 Barry, Past, Present, and Future (Sept. 2000) 

32/5 Starkloff, Pilgrimage Re-envisioned (Nov. 2000) 

33/1 Kolvenbach et al.. Faith, Justice, and American Jesuit Higher Education (Jan. 2001) 

33/2 Keenan, Unexpected Consequences: Persons's Christian Directory (March 2001) 

33/3 .Arrupe, Trinitarian Inspiration of the Ignatian Charism (May 2001) 

33/4 Veale, Saint Ignatius Asks, "Are You Sure You Know Who I Am?" (Sept. 2001) 

33/5 Barry and Keenan, How Multicultural Are We? (Nov. 2001) 

34/1 Blake, "City of the Living God" (Jan. 2002) 

34/2 Clooney, A Charism for Dialog (March 2002) 

34/3 Rehg, Christian Mindfulness (May 2002) 

34/4 Brackley, Expanding the Shrunken Soul (Sept. 2002) 

34/5 Bireley, The Jesuits and Politics in Time of War (Nov. 2002) 

35/1 Barry, Jesuit Spirituality for the Whole of Life (fan. 2003) 

35/2 Madden/Janssens, The Training of Ours in the Sacred Liturgy (March 2003) 

35/3 Marcouiller, Archbishop with an Attitude (May 2003) 

35/4 Modras, A Jesuit in the Crucible (Sept. 2003) 

35/5 Lucas, Virtual Vessels, Mystical Signs (Nov. 2003) 

36/1 Rausch, Christian Life Communities for Jesuit University Students? (Spring 2004) 

36/2 Bernauer, The Holocaust and the Search for Forgiveness (Summer 2004) 

36/3 Nantais, "Whatever!" Is Not Ignatian Indifference (Fall 2004) 

36/4 Lukacs, The Incamational Dynamic of the Constitutions (Winter 2004) 

37/1 Smolarski, Jesuits on the Moon (Spring 2005) 

37/2 McDonough, Clenched Fist or Open Hands? (Summer 2005) 

37/3 Torrens, Tuskegee Years (Fall 2005) 

37/4 O'Brien, Consolation in Action (Winter 2005) 

38/1 Schineller, In Their Own Words (Spring 2006) 

38/2 Jackson, "Something that happened to me at Manresa" (Summer 2006) 

38/3 Reiser, Locating the Grace of the Fourth Week (Fall 2006) 

38/4 O'Malley, Five Missions of the Jesuit Charism (Winter 2006) 

39/1 McKevitt, Italian Jesuits in Maryland (Spring 2007) 





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for U.S. Jesuits living in the United States and U.S. Jesuits who are still 
members of a U.S. province but living outside the United States. 


Subscriptions to STUDIES: 

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All other destinations: one year, $29; two years, $55 

A Gift Certificates Available A 
*** All payments must be in U.S. fiinds. *** 


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address; you need not do so. 
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Tel: 617-552-0860 
Fax: 617-552-0925 


Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits 
3601 Lindell Boulevard 
St. Louis, MO 63108 

Tel: 314-633-4622 

Fax: 314-633-4623 


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The price for single copies of current or past issues is $3.00, plus 
postage and handling charges. Double issues (for example, 5/1-2, 8/2-3, 9/1-2, 
etc.) are $6.00 each, plus postage and handling. 

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